It wasn’t the first time I’d done a musical pilgrimage. Years ago, during a road trip to visit our friend Sheryl in New York, my sister, her kids and I travelled back up through Woodstock, and then tried our damnedest to find Big Pink, but there was some missing link in the road signs (we suspected perhaps the current home-owner might have caused this) and we just couldn’t find it. Many do it. Music, like all art, is a spiritual experience. And if music affects you as deeply as, say, Music from Big Pink or The Basement Tapes did Cathy and I, then you’d seize any opportunity to be in that place where it was created or inspired. It adds a whole other layer to the musical story and your experience of it.
So here I am in the beautiful town of Jasper and I realise Pyramid Lake is just a short jaunt out of town, and I have to go because it is at the centre of one of my long-time favourite Blue Rodeo songs, the trippy and joyful Cynthia. While here I learn that Jasper National Park is the world’s second largest dark sky preserve, and so how could star gazing in a place like this not inspire a beautiful song like that?
I most often set my MP3 player on random play. Because when a song like this weaves unexpectedly into your day, you get lost in it for a few moments and forget about things like deadlines and long work days and finding your fine city is suddenly represented by an angry, rude, uncompassionate, buffoon of a mayor.
There's a lot of value in getting lost in something beautiful for a little while. Breathe. Everything's going to be okay.
Okay, this is last week's Magpie Tales prompt. I loved the prompt, I just didn't get it together. But then yesterday I was talking about the inspiration I find in Victoria Williams and I mentioned the Sweet Relief benefit album(s) of the nineties, and I thought of this song – another oft-played favourite of Victoria's songs in my home, this time interpreted by "that firecracker" Maria McKee.
I couldn't pull it together for the Magpie Tales Tuesday launch, and I've already started to write this week's "tale" based on this week's Magpie prompt. But what the hell – Victoria said pretty much what I was not able to pull together, so better late than never, I say.
(Bad video – gets cut off at the end. But just buy it on i-tunes, or dare I say it – buy the album on CD! You'll be glad you did.)
I'm always a little late discovering good tv shows. I think I started watching Seinfeld in its second-last season. Probably part of that is me not being much of a "joiner-inner" and not inclined to watch things just because everybody else is. (Er, in my defence though, during the Seinfeld glory days I WAS also a single mother of two little girls and going to university full time while holding down some part-time jobs, but I digress…) Anyway, usually when I discover these things I never seem to remember when they're on so watching them often becomes an occasional pleasant surprise kind of thing.
This was the case last year when I discovered the show "Spectacle: Elvis Costello with…" I still don't ever seem to remember when it's on, I just stumble upon it every odd week or so. And every time I do I think it's the best thing since sliced bread.
Most of that is about Costello's reverence for music and his guests that create it. He's engaged, and so then are we. And that audience – I've described the show as an "Inside the Actors Studio" for musicians.
Anyway, I didn't see the particular episode which begat the video below. I sure wish I had. It's one of my favourite songs – more than that – a family favourite song. A song of such oddness and magic that few ever tried to cover it; and those that did produced something akin to REALLY LAME.
Well, guess what – this one, recorded on Costello's Spectacle, is gorgeous. Some great tv and an even greater song.
This one's for my sisters and my daughters.