I haven't written anything here in a while. There's no real rhyme or reason why--I'm not one of those people who believe blogging is dead. I'm just one of those people who realizes not everyone follows my newsfeed with baited breath, wondering what it is I've done this time. I get it--we're all in the midst of our lives, and sometimes writing out a story sucks all the flavor right out of it. And if I'm honest, I'd developed a bad habit of starting to draft entries in my head while things were actually happening, and just sort of observing them and self-editing in real time, instead of just jumping in with both feet and not thinking of whatever I was doing or whatever was being done as grist for the mill. Plus, there's been kind of a lot going on. But you already know that.
I'm not one of those folks who will stand here and say that 2016 was The Worst Year Ever, but I can say it was rough for pretty much everyone I know, and had some patches in it that damn near tore the hide off my bleeding heart. But this was also the year that my beloved and I moved to The Farm, which we'd been dreaming and planning since almost the very beginning of our relationship, and that has been a balm to my soul and a daily joy--even the 5:30am wake-up time has a tiny bit of happy in it. A tiny bit.
Just for fits and giggles, I thought I'd share my latest playlist with you. Remember when I used to do that, kind of on the reg? For your consideration, please find an aural representation of the year that was 2016. These are the songs I sewed into my heart this year; the words and tunes and mystery that helped me stay afloat and held me safe and warm, along with a short note offering some further explanation as necessary for each...
Africa Unite (Bob Marley) Remember that one time in May 2015 when my back went out, and I spent 4 days in the hospital all jacked up on steroids and muscle relaxers? Yeah, that's kind of a blurry memory for me, too. Except for this song. I was trying really hard to rest, but my sweet little old lady roommate kept trying to get out of her bed, and tripping the alarm...like every 20 minutes for two whole entire days. My only recourse was to shove my earbuds as far into my ears as possible and just let Youtube videos run until I could cry myself to sleep. How pathetic is that? And one morning, at about 2am, this song came on, and soothed me in such a weird way. When I passed the anniversary of my injury, I brought this little gem back out, and found myself very grateful for the relief it had provided.
Are You Ready for the Country? (Neil Young) Clearly, we were. Living in Little House in the Holler is fantastic. I love it, every single day. The quiet, the way the light travels across the face of the hills, how every season has brought us new sight-lines and beauty to witness...you should come visit as soon as you can.
Battle Hymn of the Republic (The Abyssinian Baptist Sanctuary Choir) Maybe one of my favorite sacred songs, this track was on heavy rotation for obvious reasons. I cry pretty much every time I hear it. This cover is an especially lovely acapella version. That last verse gets me right in all my feels.
Bears (Lyle Lovett) I married into a family of hairy dudes. I think of my BIL's every time I hear this song, and this is also why one is listed as Brother Bear in my phone and the other is listed as Baby Bear. I also occasionally refer to Mr Jones as my sweet old bear, but he probably would be mortified if he knew I told you that.
Chief (Patty Griffin) The way we treat our brothers and sisters from the First Nations makes me want to run and hide in shame.
Desolation Row (Bob Dylan) Seriously, do you need me to work this one out for you? I feel like you probably know everything I want to say about this. I'll spare you the sermonizing. This time.
Devil Town (Bright Eyes) Anytime I wander too far into the deep end of the nostalgia pool containing memories of my small-town childhood/adolescence, I have to listen to this song and sing real loud. Also, can we talk about how much I truly love Friday Night Lights and how badly I want to have Connie Britain's hair? SO MUCH. SO BAD. Do I have a track of me singing this on my phone? Yes, yes I do.
Dink's Song (Oscar Isaac and Marcus Mumford) Instead of putting people on blast, I said my peace and walked away.
Empty Garden (Elton John) My officemate died two days before my birthday. I miss him every day. I miss playing on projects with him and making beautiful books together, for Jesus and his friends.
Failsafe (The New Pornographers) I heard this song for the first time in 2007 listening to Fresh Air and stuck in traffic on the Dan Ryan Expressway. I spent many an evening watching the telly this fall, wondering if there was any such thing as a failsafe to stall and smother the flames that breached the walls of the keep. Alas, there was not. So I guess we're all going to enjoy roasting smores while Rome burns, huh?
Hard Times (Gillian Welch and David Rawlings) Plz see previous entry. Ain't gonna rule my mind no more.
Head Over Heels (JD McPherson) If this song doesn't put some ass in your pants and make you want to dance around, you should probably make an appointment to go see your doctor.
Heroes (Wildebeest Mix) (Peter Gabriel) Yeah, I know it's a cover of a beloved Bowie track, and that it was featured in a super cheesy war movie that I can't even deal with talking about for about a million and seven reasons, some of which would likely offend some of the people who will read this. I. Can't. However, it was also featured on Stranger Things, which took me all of two episodes to fall in love with.
Hold On, I'm Coming (Sam and Dave) This is a song that can be found on many of my playlists from the last decade. I adore this song. It always makes me feel better.
Hold Your Head High (The Heartless Bastards) Sing it, lady. Pull every single one of my guts out. Make me remember.
I Hear Them All (Dave Rawlings Machine) This is a really powerful theological musing, and makes me want to cry and pray and believe.
I Won't Back Down (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) Double ditto to previous statement.
If I Had My Way I'd Tear the Building Down (Blind Willie Johnson) Samson feels all my feels in this song. And Blind Willie...man...that wail...the taproot of so much of the music I have loved my whole life sits right in middle of him.
If You Had a Vineyard (Sinead O'Connor) This song kills me. All I want to do is sing along. And live better. One of my childhood heroes...girl nails one of the cries of my heart.
Luckiest Man (The Wood Brothers) On days when I don't know how to pray for my brother, or think about him, or what to do with all my feelings, I listen to this song and it helps. This song has reminded me of him since the very first time I heard it, and I remember stopping and crying in the bathroom because I wanted to play it for him so bad. Maybe one day.
Magpie to the Morning (Neko Case) Mockingbirds and yellow meadowlarks live in the field our back porch looks right into. I loved watching all the birds flit and fly around our new digs this summer. I didn't even mind the starlings in the chimney...one of which greeted us in the living room while we were bringing in our first boxes. You know, they say a bird caught in a room is good luck...we managed to usher her outside before I had a panic attack or she pooed on either of our heads.
Run On (Moby) How I managed to not hear this song until December 2016 is beyond me. But once I did, I put it on heavy rotation. Much like the JD McPherson track, if you don't find yourself at least tapping your foot along with the beat, you should have your pulse checked. Maybe think about adding a multi-vitamin or something.
Secure Yourself (Indigo Girls) Fasten up your earthy burdens. Gird up your loins. We're all in this together, and "it's a long walk back to Eden, sweetheart." Gulp.
Sounds Like Hallelujah (The Head and the Heart) This was one of the songs my beloved played me on our very first road trip, the same road trip where we planned an imaginary farm and realized we were seriously, crazy, deeply, in so much love it was both nauseating and cavity-producing and changed the entire course of the whole universe. For us, at least. As I remember, the first set of "wood's" came right as we were coming over the top of a hill to see a lady standing in her yard with a shotgun.
Wah-Wah (George Harrison) This was the first song George Harrison recorded after the break-up of the Beatles. I listened to it many times while I watched people I thought I knew unspool and say hurtful, awful, hateful, mean things that made me cry and block them from my newsfeed. I wish I had had the courage to say hard things to some of them. But that whole thing Jesus says about casting pearls before swine made me bite my tongue real hard.
When I Paint My Masterpiece (The Band) Like my friend Lady Julian says, "All things shall be well. And all things shall be well. And all things shall be very well."