How can it already be August 18th??? This summer has come and passed so quickly. There have been so many fun outings and trips I’ve done in the past several weeks. So, allow me to share with you now that I am coming off the most incredible week of concerts I have ever experienced………!!!!!!!!
I could write volumes about how much I’ve appreciated music’s healing power in my life in the past year. But I won’t belabor the point, because I fear that words cannot even capture how much I love music and value it in my life now. Just hear me say this, “I LOVE MUSIC,” and multiply it by a factor of like 10,000 million gzillion. So you get my point.
So I’ll try to capture the amazingness that was this past week full of live music with a few pictures and comments.
So Iron and Wine opened the show at the Idaho Botanical Gardens on Thursday night. It’s an incredibly beautiful concert venue that’s basically a lawn in front of the Boise Foothills. It only holds a few thousand people, so it feels quite intimate. Sam Beam played solo and acoustically by request–people up front just yelled out songs they wanted to hear, and he obliged. He was so amazing, sounding so clear and just like he does on record. It was hard for me to listen, in a way, because his music is basically the soundtrack of the spring that my husband and I met and fell in love. It brought me to tears hearing all those songs that played while we were getting to know each other and hanging out in each other’s dorm rooms, and then kissing and laying in bed together, and then wondering what would come of our young love. I was tempted not to go to the concert out of my fear of how I would feel listening to these songs, but I’m so glad that I went. Most of this past year I’ve tried to rise up to emotional challenges rather than let my fear of them keep me from the experience. Music hits me so deeply now–it cuts through all my thoughts and arguments and memories and excuses and just hits me right in my soul. After he came offstage, Sam walked along the fence and greeted and talked to everyone who came up. I shook his hand and thanked him for playing and sharing his music. I told him that in a way it was hard to listen to, for the memories it evoked, but that ultimately it was healing. He was so gracious and also said thank you for my kind words. He is such a gifted writer; I love the way he tells stories with his songs. He only played for an hour, but when I went home I listened to him online for like two hours, and just let myself bawl my eyes out, remembering that sweet time with my husband–then boyfriend, now ex-husband, I realize. It’s so painful, yet so freeing to just lay on my couch for hours, listening to music and letting my tears fall down my face. It’s overwhelming in the moment, but I know it would be more overwhelming to hold all that in for the rest of my life.
So here is one of my favorite Iron and Wine songs: The Trapeze Swinger
Please remember me, happily By the rosebush laughing With bruises on my chin, the time when We counted every black car passing
Your house beneath the hill and up until Someone caught us in the kitchen With maps, a mountain range, a piggy bank A vision too removed to mention
But please remember me, fondly I heard from someone you're still pretty And then they went on to say that the Pearly Gates Had some eloquent graffiti
Like 'We'll meet again' and 'Fuck the man' And 'Tell my mother not to worry' And angels with their great handshakes But always done in such a hurry
And please remember me, at Halloween Making fools of all the neighbors Our faces painted white, by midnight We'd forgotten one another
And when the morning came I was ashamed Only now it seems so silly That season left the world and then returned And now you're lit up by the city
So please remember me, mistakenly In the window of the tallest tower Call, then pass us by but much too high To see the empty road at happy hour
Gleam and resonate just like the gates Around the Holy Kingdom With words like, 'Lost and found' and 'Don't look down' And 'Someone save temptation'
And please remember me as in the dream We had as rug-burned babies Among the fallen trees and fast asleep Beside the lions and the ladies
That called you what you like and even might Give a gift for your behavior A fleeting chance to see a trapeze Swinger high as any savior
But please remember me, my misery And how it lost me all I wanted Those dogs that love the rain and chasing trains The colored birds above there running
In circles round the well and where it spells On the wall behind St. Peter So bright on cinder gray in spray paint 'Who the hell can see forever?'
And please remember me, seldomly In the car behind the carnival My hand between your knees, you turn from me And said the trapeze act was wonderful
But never meant to last, the clowns that passed Saw me just come up with anger When it filled with circus dogs, the parking lot Had an element of danger
So please remember me, finally And all my uphill clawing My dear, but if I make the Pearly Gates I'll do my best to make a drawing
Of God and Lucifer, a boy and girl An angel kissin' on a sinner A monkey and a man, a marching band All around the frightened trapeze swinger
So the headliner that night was Brandi Carlile. I wasn’t very familiar with her–only had heard a few of her songs on the mainstream radio–but had heard that she has the best and most unique female voice currently out there. She was SO amazing. They totally rocked the house, and I loved so many of her songs. I wish I had such a strong voice and could move people as a singer the way she and other musicians do. She also has amazing hair, I might add… And, she’s from Seattle, so how could I not like her..?
All of these lines across my face Tell you the story of who I am So many stories of where I've been And how I got to where I am But these stories don't mean anything When you've got no one to tell them to It's true... I was made for you I climbed across the mountain tops Swam all across the ocean blue I crossed all the lines and I broke all the rules But baby I broke them all for you Oh because even when I was flat broke You made me feel like a million bucks You do and I was made for you You see the smile that's on my mouth It's hiding the words that don't come out And all of my friends who think that I'm blessed They don't know my head is a mess No, they don't know who I really am And they don't know what I've been through like you do And I was made for you... All of these lines across my face Tell you the story of who I am So many stories of where I've been And how I got to where I am But these stories don't mean anything When you've got no one to tell them to It's true... I was made for you Oh yeah, well it's true... that I was made for you...
So a few weeks ago I was home listening to the current recording on Pandora that is Mumford & Sons playing a live show and featuring their new album “Wilder Mind.” I love that title, by the way. I’ve grown to love my own wildness–not to resist it or resent it, but to embrace it as a wonderful and integral part of who I am. Cheryl Strayed’s powerful autobiography Wild helped me acknowledge my own wildness–both its destructive capacity as well as its precious uniqueness. Thoreau said this: “All good things are wild and free.” I am good. I am wild. I am free.
"It was my life—like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me. How wild it was, to let it be." --Cheryl Strayed
So I decided that night, rocking out to Mumford while laying on my couch staring at the ceiling (not for the first time, I might add… ) that there was no reason (not even a Presbytery meeting…) for me not to drive out to see Mumford in Walla Walla, WA. (Anyone remember that hilarious piece from Mike Birbiglia about visiting “Waya Waya, Washington??” If you haven’t heard it, click the link. It’s hilarious.) So Mumford are headlining a select few shows they’re calling “Gentlemen of the Road.” They’ve chosen some relatively small/potentially obscure towns that normally wouldn’t be host to a huge music festival featuring one of the biggest bands in the world. Thus, Walla Walla: the quintessential farm town meets college town. It is located in an absolutely stunning part of southeastern Washington. You know that opening line from “America the Beautiful”
O beautiful for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
Well that pretty much describes Walla Walla, or at least the drive right up to the town. There were endless rolling hills of wheat resting under the wide open blue sky. Slowly the fields transitioned to orchards, where they grow delicious peaches and apples. And those orchards eventually give way to the onion fields–you know, the ones that produce the famous “Walla Walla Sweet Onions.” The local minor league baseball team is actually named the “Walla Walla Sweets” (which of course endearingly reminds me of the Lake Wobegon Whippets) and their mascot is Sweet Lou. I had a few friends from high school who attended Whitman College for undergraduate, but I’d never actually been to Walla Walla. It is in the heart of wine country–I guess I forgot to mention the thousands of acres of vineyards that also surround the town–and the town is filled with lovely shops and tasting rooms. The GOTR tour is so unique and incredible because it’s designed to essentially take over a great town for a whole weekend, so that it’s like a full-immersion experience of place, people, and music. They achieved their intention, if I do say so myself. The weekend was sooooooo amazing. Posters for GOTR were plastered everywhere and welcomed everyone to the town for the festival weekend. Everyone camped on the local golf course across the highway from where the main stage was, and the town was set apart as a pedestrian zone, so basically there were just thousands of people walking around, listening to various shows and enjoying a truly “festive” festival atmosphere. It was so awesome, and the music was only part of what made it so great.
It took me six and a half hours to get there after work on Friday, when it should have been four. Mother Nature decided to implement a scorched earth policy on Eastern Oregon, which meant that the freeway closed when the wildfires began jumping the lanes and trying to spread to the other side. That sounds like the beginning of a bad joke: Why did the fire cross the road? … To burn the shit out of more wilderness on the other side… At first I was worried about how I’d get there when there is literally one road into Boise and the same road out. Fortunately the gas station manager told me a way to bushwhack up and around and back down to Baker City, where I could get back on the open highway and keep heading north toward Walla Walla. I had a spiritual revelation while driving, which is that sometimes our path takes us places we weren’t planning on going, but which ultimately are more beautiful and enjoyable than the direction we were originally headed, and which protect us from dangers we would have encountered had we continued in the original direction we were heading. My drive took me through miles and miles of Idaho backcountry, and ultimately up through Hell’s Canyon. IT WAS SOOOOO GORGEOUS. There’s some crazy part of me that wants/thinks I can actually drive like every single road in the state of Idaho. I know I won’t ever really do that, but I can say that my unexpected detour on Friday evening took me through an incredibly beautiful part of this state that I now call home. I’m grateful for that excursion–that it reminded me that most of life is following a series of unexpected turns through wilderness, peaks, and valleys that reveal to us the great beauty of life.
So I caught about the last 45 minutes of the Foo Fighters’ epic show on Friday night. Dave Grohl broke his leg playing a show in Sweden a few weeks ago, so you gotta hand it to him for playing almost three hours of hard core rock from a huge throne built just for him on this tour.
Most of Saturday I enjoyed strolling through town, visiting lots of cute shops and people watching. I did see a great show by this lovely couple who make music together, Grace and Tony. I listened to their album the whole drive home, and particularly love this song:
NOVEMBER by Grace & Tony
Broken bones draggin’ along Humming empty words to empty songs Falling through the motions to a level I'd never known These were disappointed eyes Lit by burning bridges all around Left alone with what I’d sewn for years and years and years I was living right where I belonged
And then something happened just along the way Something picked me up and dragged me through those days And I was wrong when I Decided I would never meet somebody like you You saved this life
Suddenly a chemistry Of good and bad began to work as one Dreams of happiness were blown away by total bliss November held a love I’d never known
And then something happened just along the way Something picked me up and dragged me through those days And I was wrong when I Decided I would never meet somebody like you You saved this life, this life
And on the eighth day, God created Mumford & Sons. And it was good. Like I said at the beginning, I don’t think I even want to try to explain how amazing it was to sit at their feet and sing my heart out and jump and dance and party it up for almost three hours. They were amazing. If you ever get the chance to see them, do it, and enjoy every second of their amazing performance.
There are more pictures I want to add of the band, but wordpress sucks and is being stupid now, so it won’t upload them. I’ll try to fix the problem later. 😦
Lastly, this has nothing to do with the concerts I’ve seen, but it’s a song I love and wanted to share with you all.
The Civil Wars "Poison & Wine" You only know what I want you to I know everything you don't want me to Your mouth is poison, your mouth is wine You think your dreams are the same as mine Oh I don't love you but I always will Oh I don't love you but I always will Oh I don't love you but I always will I always will I wish you'd hold me when I turn my back The less I give the more I get back Oh your hands can heal, your hands can bruise I don't have a choice, but I still choose you Oh I don't love you but I always will I always will
That is all.