1 Oct

I was very moved a few days ago upon hearing Gillian Welch’s song Everything Is Free.  The particular snippet that caught my attention was:

“If there’s something that you want to hear, sing it yourself.”

I always thought “yes, Gillian – I am so with you.  These jerks always want us to make a thing the way that they think it should be made – they are the worst – trying to squelch our unique voices with their dumb ideas”  I thought of all of the times that someone has said to me “you know what you should make a dance about?” and then proceeded to tell me some crazy-ass idea about how I should make the dance to thriller (um?), or choreograph a dance with a chair (!), or make a dance about (insert ridiculous movie/book/event here).  Parents – I’m pretty sure I don’t need to make the connection here for you about strangers who feel compelled to share their strong feelings on the state of your child’s (certainly frozen) feet.  As an aside, if any of you can share with me how to get a 12 month old to keep shoes and socks on, you should please feel free.  Consider your advice solicited.

But today, I realized that when Gillian (are we on a first name basis?  Should I say Ms. Welch?) says “you” that she might mean “me”.  That perhaps Gillian and I are not being catty jerks together – complaining about all those bozos who think they know best what we should do.  That perhaps Gillian is trying to tell me something.  It’s almost like she made the whole record in order for me to listen to it – to hear it – to be advised; the scope of her work reaching beyond a bitch session with yours truly (unknowable universe!).  Perhaps my looking her up on Wikipedia does not, in fact, make us close acquaintances as I imagine it does (I have a lot of famous friends, if you want to know the truth.  What?  Do you do something else in your free time?).

So anyway, I got to thinking about how I could hear those words in a completely different way.  I could hear them in a way that speaks to my advocacy in making my life exactly what I want it to be.  If I want to eat something, I can make that thing and eat it.  If I want to hear something, I can make that sound and listen.  If I want Ida to keep her shoes and socks on….. okay, so at a certain point this moving revelation breaks down a little bit, but you get the gist, right?  This is particularly relevant to me, because I’m a pretty critical person.  I don’t like much art (unless you make it and I love you – then you could poop on a popsicle stick and I would recognise it’s genius) and it often leaves me feeling frustrated.  I wish it were better, which mostly means that I wish it were what I wanted.  Which mostly means that I should just let someone else’s work be their work and make my own work in the way that makes sense to me.  I should sing the song I want to hear and listen when I do.

Gillian Welch.  That sneaky songstress is back door Ghandi-ing our brains!

The world is not just happening to us – we’re making it.  If I were leading some kind of discussion group about this idea (which, let’s face it, I am almost always imagining – my song has a choir singing backup and YOU are on alto, which is tricky so pay attention) I’d ask what “song’ you want to hear.  Mine has a lot to do with food and education these days…

Cheers, my friends.  Gill wants us to be the change and all that jazz.  I say we do it.


One Response to “Revelat(ion)er”

  1. nic October 2, 2010 at 7:03 pm #

    Some pretty startling and stark revelations in this song on this, incidentally my favorite record of Ms. Welch’s (the production, the intimacy, David Rawlings always playing the note I want to hear, even if I don’t know I want that note): ‘They were gonna do it anyway, even if doesn’t pay,’ alongside, ‘Never minded working hard, it’s who I’m working for.’

    Time (The Revelator) is a record I keep coming back to, especially now when its lo-fi, staid, sandpaper and scotch rusticity reminds me so much of the United States. Almost like David Sedaris says, “Paris, [or Ireland, in my case] was just a place for me to go to dream about America.”

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