Before Diwata invited me to join her and her friends up north, I was listening almost non-stop to numerous versions of Waters Of March and other songs that had ‘water’ in them. Moonrivers, Wave Of Mutilations, I Melt With Yous, Bridge Over Troubled Waters – you get the drift. These songs made up pretty much my entire December working playlist. Therefore, they were the same songs that bridged my last two journeys – the southern one and the northern one.
I don’t know – there’s something in the groove of those songs that somehow echo the laid back air of the shores, and hearing them gave me the feeling that I am ever on my way to the next place. I may be sitting here, now, but I am actually on the move. Or something like that.
When the holidays set on, for the first time, I did not play much carols. The songs I mentioned would not let go. They even invited more songs, journey songs, songs that had something to do with ‘place’ and ‘roads’ and ‘movement’ – which was what had me singing I Am The Highway for the most part of the holidays –
especially since the song sounds even more potent if you imagine it’s God speaking in the chorus. Try it: you take the verses, and let Him take the chorus – it becomes one little weird dialogue. You get to be reminded that there’s just no running away from Him.
Yeah, maybe it was meant to be a dialogue. Maybe those ‘pearls’ and ‘swine’ references were actually biblical. And didn’t the song open with an organ? Musicians have so often employed the use of an organ, which is a church instrument, to connote spirituality.
Well, actually, I don’t know what the hell those Audioslave boys intended. All I know is it made me shed geeky, guilty tears to be imagining that God was nagging me through Chris Cornell’s tough voice, “I am not your carpet ride, I am the sky!”
During the New Year, I happened to see Great Expectations again after so many years. In one of the scenes, where a heartbroken Finn walks the streets (?), a song sung by Cornell was played. It was familiar but I could not recall the title. I felt it a hassle to ask my host to open her computer just so I could Google the lyrics and find out what the title of the song was. I had to wait until the holidays were over and I got back to this desk to finally find out: Sunshower. God will finally get a break from tough-loving me through I Am The Highway, I thought – there’s a new song for comfort.
* * *
On the long road to the north, I remembered a few more road songs – A Horse With No Name by America and Everybody’s Talkin’ by Harry Nilsson.
A Horse With No Name made its real impact on me ages ago, when I heard it played in Hideous Kinky, over the montage where the character of Kate Winslett and her daughter were hitchhiking their way through Morocco to reach the Sufis – meeting strange fellow hitchhikers, stopping on the side of the road as their Moslem drivers prayed, watching the desert landscape unfold before them as they moved on.
This is the best clip I could find with the montage – you will have to wait quite long to get to the song, and the montage is even cut, but if only to give you a glimpse, here –
As for Everybody’s Talkin’, the song was originally performed by Harry Nilsson, off the film Midnight Cowboy. For the longest time, again, when I still worked back in the courthouse, one of the songs that got me through was that song. It was anthemic and it suited my needs – it spoke of not fitting in, and going away where one could belong. That time, I was always in the look-out for such songs.
I preferred playing it rather than listening to Nilsson, though. I just was not so much into its original country feel. I had never been into country. Folk I love, but not country. So, if only to keep hearing the song whenever I wished, I learned the chords and figured out how to play it without the country bouncy feel. I chose a more feminine key, and sang it. I used to sing it daily on my way to my rotten bundy clock enemy –
until Borat came out and made a travesty of it.
I shall never be providing a clip of that.
Actually, I loved the sick hilarity of Borat. I was achingly laughing out through the movie – until they dared play my anthem, my comfort, over some scene where Borat was cruising the New York streets for a score, to spoof Midnight Cowboy. I stopped laughing at that point.
I kept a grudge against the movie because of that Everybody’s Talkin’ desecration. Since seeing that scene, all I could remember, whenever I heard or thought about the song, is Borat. In that idiotically stretched underwear. It couldn’t be helped – soon I was asking myself whether my misery, salved by the song, can actually just be equated to the perversions of Borat. It wasn’t fair, eh?
When I got back from the north, during the short work period between my Christmas and New Year break, I sought the two songs. In the process, I came across Madeleine Peyroux’s take of Everybody’s Talkin’ –
and just like that, all my Borat grudge was washed away. It never occurred to me that the song could be given a jazzed up arrangement. Before I knew it, I was already checking out her discography, and found out that she also sang Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen songs. And that she wrote songs too. And that she played the guitar –
Peyroux, referred to by some as Billie Holiday on hi-fi, is highly noted for her choices of song to cover, when she covers. Fleshing out the Leonard Cohen-penned Half The Perfect World, she sings –
“On that fundamental ground
where love’s unwilled, unleashed, unbound
and half the perfect world is found”
Now if I could only write like that. I can’t be just stumbling upon lines like that, and they won’t just come to me, too.
* * *
And just as I have been carried by songs to and fro, I heard something from the bus very recently that took quite a challenge to catch –
All I knew of the song is its melody. And that it’s quite old, maybe from the late seventies. I could hum it in perfect pitch, but I could not make out much of the lyrics. Which made it virtually impossible for me to Google for its name.
I typed the words as I heard them – “sentimental” “flowing through my life again” “fourteen” “’cause there may come a time”.
Nothing came out, because as I found out later, I did not hear accurately the few that I heard. But I had to work on what I got in hand, which brought me to try various possible combinations of that set. Remove the quotes, add the plus sign between the phrases, place ‘lyrics’ upfront. Didn’t work.
I even went as far as singing those words to my fellow writers, who are all practically still kids, and were all still likely unborn when the song probably came out. They either just laughed me off or gave me the look.
I kept typing combinations, though, the song was too good for me to give up. At last, I stumbled upon a search page which had in bold most of the words that I typed. I’ve forgotten the exact combination I typed. All I can remember is that when I sang the words from the link that I found, they all perfectly fit in the melody. I got the song, finally! Next goal, to play it.
It’s one happy song. I could stay in it for a while: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1NVm1E_5ok