Short Songs Long Lives

Casting ourselves back to early 2012, this one appeared in Canopic Jar #25,  (fine zine, check it out)

Short Songs, Long Lives (January 2012)

She sent me a note about a song she’d just written, no instruments, “simple and sorta county.” “I love my little tune,” she added.

Don’t know why, but this reminded me of a time long passed, when I used to tinker with my Dad’s reel to reel, figuring out how to match the words in my head to the notes on my fingers, to come up with my own little tunes. It was joyous. Then, after years of dark and dank sound checks, I stumbled, soured on words altogether, quit writing songs and began listening to nothing but jazz. It was crazy. Somehow I’d felt like words had betrayed me. I was a wordsmith by trade; it was how I connected to people and defined myself, through poetry, songs, and stories. But, I’d just spent 17 months of my life haggling over words, as if nothing that was ever read, said, or wrote mattered. The words that were left were sadder than anything that happened, because they had been stripped raw, devoid of meaning. I was burnt out on words.ugroundthumbnail

But, music was still deep in my blood and always a fan, her line about the song killed me. It was confident and coy all at the same time. And it was only five words. It took me back and shot me forward. I was ready to listen.

Stars shine on the clearest nights, so after dinner on New Year’s Day, I made my request. The stores were closed, streets quiet, computer screen lighting up an otherwise darkened room. All was still except for her voice, cascading upon her voice, one intertwined upon the other, like two hands in a shadow play. The song passed by in about a minute, but it was completely self-contained, and perfect. There was nothing to say, nothing to evaluate and for the first time in a long time, I felt like I’d really heard music. Afterwards, she told me she’d sent it to a friend who wanted to work on it, make it longer, add some verses. I winced at the thought. It was finished, beautiful exactly as it was. It didn’t matter what had come before or what was to come next, because today is not like yesterday and even less like tomorrow. This we know. Short songs, long lives, and the way it all intertwines, that’s what I heard in the little tune she loved so well.

Published by Doug Hoekstra

Father, wordsmith, musician, creative.

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