Monday, October 6, 2014
31 Songs: Come On Come On
I met Mary Chapin Carpenter at one of the lowest points in my life. Somebody handed me the album on CD.
My kids were little then, and time to listen - and to really hear - music was limited. One night after everyone was tucked in, I popped the disc in a portable player, grabbed some headphones and pressed play.
I liked what I heard; impressive, tight pop/country/rock and a rich female voice that knew a thing or two about life.
I remember exactly where I was when the final track came on. I sat down, slowly, on the edge of the kitchen floor where it sunk into the living room. The velvety burgundy carpeting felt lush under my feet. It was dark, outside and in; I'd turned off all the lights in the house.
Some people remember the first time
Some can't forget the last
Some just select what they want to from the past
It's a song that you danced to in high school
It's a moon you tried to bring down
On a four-in-the-morning drive through the streets of town
Come on, come on it's getting late now
Come on, come on take my hand
Come on, come on you just have to whisper
Come on, come on I will understand
I'm not sure what Mary Chapin Carpenter meant. I don't know what prompted the lyric when she wrote it. But I know what came over me as I listened that night.
There is a deep, visceral melancholy woven throughout life, I think. For most everyone who has ears to hear, it thrums. From time to time the buoyancy lifts this sleek sorrow upward, and we taste and see it. We cry. We mourn and grieve.
Maybe there is some connection to the deeper knowledge that we are temporal, that this world is not our home. Maybe it is the accumulated sorrow of all we've lost, and the surety that there will be more pain. Whatever the source, we know that some music sets that sorrow free.
Come On, Come On is such a sorrow song for me. I've never really focused on the actual meaning of the lyric she sings, but I know what my heart aches for when I hear it.
When I heard it the first time, I was in the midst of losing.
Losing my way. Losing my focus. Losing my focus. There was an unknown something stirring in me, a thing that demanded attention. Later, my counselor said it was a matter of survival; a powerful need rooted so deeply within me that even without my consent, it would rear and roar and insist that I notice.
I did. But not on that autumn evening. It was a whisper, a hushed half step. The crescendo came later.
That was over a decade ago. I thought it was a seasonal pull, one that I'd always mark down as the theme song of that era; that's how I felt then.
But I find myself drawn, again, to that mournful ache. These days, this day, I hear that whisper again.
It's a need you never get used to, so fierce and so confused
It's a loss you never get over the first time you lose