If I could have one super power, I would want to fly like a bird.
Some songs get covered more than others.
Love me a well executed cover song,
but I had trouble choosing one.
I thought there would be so many I wouldn’t know which one to pick, but then I drew a blank. Perhaps there are just too many that my mind wouldn’t come up with any at all.
Oh, wait…here’s one:
The great Leonard Cohen originally wrote it, but this is the one I know from my childhood. (Lyrics may vary slightly.)
Like a bird on the wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir I have tried in my way to be free.
Like a worm on a hook, like a knight from some old fashioned book I have saved all my ribbons for thee.
If I, if I have been unkind, I hope that you can just let it go by.
If I, if I have been untrue I hope you know it was never to you.
Like a baby, stillborn, like a beast with his horn I have torn everyone who reached out for me.
But I swear by this song and by all that I have done wrong I will make it all up to thee.
I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch, he said to me, “You must not ask for so much.”
And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door, she cried to me, “Hey, why not ask for more?”
Oh like a bird on the wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir I have tried in my way to be free.
I liked this Neville Brothers rendition and sound, as a child, because I heard them singing about a bird, up on a wire and flying free.
So many parts of life feel like restraints. I have always imagined, when I’ve heard a bird fly overhead, that I could be free up there too, with a new and different overview and perspective on the world.
What super power would you choose and why? What is your favourite song covered?
I am feeling a little like I am frozen, and I’m warm while I say that. I don’t need to be out in a snow bank to say it. It is January, a new year, and I am frozen by many fears. I am afraid I will accomplish nothing, that this year of 2016 will be empty and a blank void in my life. I feel frozen by indecision and by uncertainty, but I hope I can find a way to thaw from that feeling of being frozen by all of this, that I can find the courage to take risks and keep moving forward.
I am equal parts afraid and optimistic. I am a lot hesitant and somewhat hopeful. The fear that I could go a whole year and not get anywhere at all clings on tight. On the other hand, I see a wide open year ahead as full of unknown possibility and promise of something great.
You never know the experiences you might have, the events in life that you just can’t plan for, and the people you may meet, who may come into your life for all kinds of reasons, for the short term only or for longer.
Here I am, a year on from the fear and those remarks I made on my blog at the start of 2016, and a good year for me personally and creatively, trying new things, all by deciding to focus on myself is how 2016 actually turned out.
And now, I end 2016 and begin 2017 by looking back, at the year I’ve just had and ahead to the year to come.
Then, to kick things up a notch, I thought the best way to focus on my writing was to take a writing workshop with a Canadian writer I’ve admired since I began blogging and seriously writing. Carrie Snyder – Obscure CanLit Mama
Her style to creative work was just what I needed and it made me open up and here I am, one year later exactly, off to broaden my writing workshop horizons.
In reality, my brother had just come off a close medical call and was becoming himself again. I had lots to be thankful for.
I just needed a bit of a push, some creative inspiration,
and a path for a new direction in my life.
The year 2016 would, by many, be labeled “The Year All the Greats Died…the cursed year” even if you look at that with perspective from other years, past or future.
It began with David Bowie, but for me, it all started with Snape,
as Bowie hadn’t quite meant to me what he’d meant to many others who felt his loss.
A new year maybe, but a new month meant another #1000Speak,
focusing on the subject of forgiveness.
With the start of 2016 I decided to start a new Friday tradition.
This third month of 2016 would bring more music, as I would discover my theme song for the year and forevermore: Scars – Emmanuel Jal Feat. Nelly Furtado
and I would officially begin to learn how to play the violin, with lessons that would challenge and reward me, in both big and small ways.
Then, in honour of International Day of Happiness, I wrote a piece for March’s #1000Speak
about how music makes me happy.
By this point in the year, I decided to cut back on blogging and write more of the memoir I’ve always planned for.
The writing mentor was a big deal, for that, as great and knowledgeable as she is and as much guidance as she’s been so far, but it was a sign that I could make writing my future – only I could do that.
Weeks before, at the end of May, the lead singer of Canada’s own Tragically Hip announced his fight with brain cancer and all his fans of Canada were listening, especially all across the country, one night in August.
“Regarding the influence from his poet-balladeer father, Cohen has said, “He’s tremendously helpful. Forget that I am his son. I was tutored in lyric-writing by Leonard Cohen and I had his sensibilities to draw upon. And I’m not just talking genetically. I could literally talk to the cat and he could lean over my notebook and point to a couple of phrases and say, ‘These are strong, these are weak.’ How can I consider myself anything but incredibly fortunate.”
Canada loses a great artist and the world all feels it, a distraction, in the form of RIP Leonard Cohen,
just following the chaos in the United States.
I focused on my own personal growth for a greater part of 2016, but managed to fit in a little, last minute dating during the final days. Also, I made new and face-to-face connections with a few local women writers. So, a balance of personal and social, for good measure.
A few of the final famous deaths of 2016 would include daughter/mother pair Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, but for me, it was the loss of this guy that brought me back twenty or so years:
I watched Days of Our Lives multiple days a week, while I was sick at home from school or stuck on dialysis. It was my favourite soap opera of the late 90s, as ridiculous as the storylines always were.
And now, here I am, and another January is upon me.
It is a bit of a contemplative month, with the new year so new and fresh, but I value it for its melancholyish quality. It is a quiet time of reflection and so much possibility ahead.
As a new year begins I search for the motivation I see all around me, the kind that is going to get me to the places I strive to get to. I feel the blueness of January and hope I can find some momentum in the months to come.
My 2016 Resolutions were:
I want to make more connections with writers, creative and smart women, and I want to keep writing. I want to not be afraid to keep putting my words out there, even though the fear of more rejection is a lingering one.
Some make resolutions, others pick one word for their year, but I resist doing both. If I have to choose one word though, I suppose I will go with “Adventure”. I do want more of this, as I believe life is one giant adventure, all the years we get to live it.
Okay, not really, but my examples do showcase our differences and what separates us, the teams we often feel we’re on and the people we most closely identify with, as opposed to those other people. I wanted to cry all week, but couldn’t quite get the tears to come. So I play this song.
By now, we all know who the next guy in charge of the US is going to be, and he’s eating that worldwide attention up like we all knew he would. Then Leonard Cohen died. People say these things are final and we must get over it, well that first one, and so I can’t simply listen to a song like Don’t Worry, Be Happy and accept the way things in the world seem to be going. I am afraid of that and I’m afraid I can’t.
Saturday Night Live found the best way to help out the grieving Americans and to pay tribute to a favourite poet/artist at the same time.
Then there is this song which comes from the “This American Life” series:
I was afraid of where this election was leading and this song is the perfect mixture of intense jazz, sad realism, lyrics that make me want to cry and cry out because I don’t know what has gotten into the US and not just them. I am critical but I know that if it were happening here in Canada, I wouldn’t want to be forgotten and forsaken. I would want help in understanding and whatever else and these things tend to spread eventually anyway and already seem to be doing just that. My knowledge of history has me rooted in fear and apprehension, but thankful to be Canadian at this time. I feel powerless amongst my existing and somewhat even more clearly defined thankfuls.
I’m thankful for the chance to express my thoughts and distract myself with a task during the night of the US election.
We thought we would do a before/after, from our Canadian perspective. Our hope was to focus on a lot of tough issues discussed and a few laughs thrown in there from time to time also, to try and lighten the mood a little wherever possible, but I haven’t been laughing for a while, not about this stuff.
It didn’t look good to me, not from the start, and in that case I did not relish being right with my instincts. We recorded a bit during the night, as the results came in and again the next day, once the results had time to sink in somewhat.
Bad dream or a sign that the end is near? Yes, either way, I had a sound effect for the occasion. If you aren’t sick of hearing about it in a few weeks, our podcast and the third episode should be available on iTunes. After all, we wouldn’t want to forget this event would we? Well, now we have it recorded forever.
I’m thankful the election is over.
I did feel relieved. It was painful and surreal. Now those long months are behind us and the nightmare of the next four years is just beginning.
I’m thankful for The Paris Climate Agreement, a step in the right direction.
So many countries have gone together on this. Who knows what will happen going forward, but I am proud Canada is represented and hopefully doing our part.
And then there’s the setting aside of ocean reserves, with the three oceans Canada exists within and the work President Obama has done. Oil spills, like the one on Canada’s west coast recently, these can do a lot of damage, and hopefully Prime Minister Justin Trudeau understands this. I am proud to be flanked by the three, Pacific, Arctic, and Atlantic.
Whether it’s the ocean in the northern hemisphere or the opposite pole, down at the bottom of the world, I hope we realize how valuable it all is.
I’m thankful that my family reads my blog as much as they can.
And they put up with me and some of the things I say here.
They never quite know what to expect I’m sure and, truthfully, neither do I most times when I sit down to write.
They are incredibly supportive and I can say the things I want to say, though I hope I never hurt any of them too much in the process. I am lucky to be able to speak my mind, as I do appreciate at this time of year.
I’m thankful that I discover new and different music through the music expert in my life.
My brother is the music guy and he has so so many internet radio stations and is always playing something new and different to my ear. This one was just the kind of fast tempo I needed to perk up my spirits. I hadn’t heard anything quite like it.
I’m thankful for strong women who are fighting for women and minorities, even as I feel the bleakness of powerful forces out there.
I was escaping into some Lord of the Rings movies to distract myself from the things I fear, but the similarities to the power men crave and the ring, a physical symbol of that greed, it was all too obvious. But there is hope amongst the uncertainty.
And so I am determined to end this post on a positive note, among all the bad news, the protests going on around the US, and my spot, from where I sit, feeling helpless, here in Canada.
What are the things that bring us together? These are the things we have in common.
Why am I writing twice in only a few days about Leonard Cohen, a star Canada is proud to say was born here, who’s music has left such an impression on so many people’s lives, when I’ve never written about him before now?
I guess I didn’t realize how beloved he was. I readily admit I was never his biggest fan. It could be a bit of a generational thing, but really, it just never took hold, his music in my mind or heart I mean. Now, I just found his death, two days after the shock to so many with the news out of the US, that his dying and the spreading of his soulful lyrics has been a great condolence and consoling of so many. As a true fan of anyone who can create such brilliant lyrics, I think it well worth all this focus on what really matters in life, so much of which Cohen wrote about for so long.
I just must share a few of his songs, but I am choosing not to share his versions. I still offer up my greatest respect to the man, the Canadian legend he will always be.
I first heard this one on one of my favourite television teen dramas at the time, The OC. I thought it was one of the saddest songs I’d ever heard, though at the time to be fair, it was being played over the scene where Marissa and Ryan were dancing for the last time. That may have played a part for me at the time.
Now it just feels prudent.
Covers are fascinating replicas of the originals. To be honest, some covers are better than the covered, but is that an insult to the artist who first created the song being re-imagined? I wouldn’t know. I have no song that another has been eager to redo but I am left wondering what it must feel like.
Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah
I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
But then there’s the song my brother showed me after the news broke. This cover was contrasted with the original then. I include it here, but it was some of the lyrics that I was drawn to.
Any way you slice it, with whomever sings this one, it is the most mournful thing to fit the ending of such a week as this.
Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove Dance me to the end of love Dance me to the end of love Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon Show me slowly what I only know the limits of Dance me to the end of love Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above Dance me to the end of love Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the children who are asking to be born Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove Dance me to the end of love Dance me to the end of love Dance me to the end of love
This week, as is so often to be found in life, was full of both the expected and the unexpected. Change comes round, now and then, whether we want it to or not, whether we’re ready for it or we aren’t.
I expected that the US might bring round a change in things, from one political party to the other. I wasn’t all that surprised by their election results, to be sadly honest. As much as I hoped that the change would be for that country to elect their first female president, another white, rich male came out on top.
Anger is expected. It is felt by so many. So many people let anger cloud the fear underneath, at the heart of things. I admit, I have anger, especially after the events of a week as bad as this, but I am mostly afraid. I am afraid for our world.
The stories in the news this week, like for months, have been all about events in the US. I knew though that soon enough other stories would come along and shift focus, even for a few days time, and that happened with the announcement that Leonard Cohen was gone. This, I admit, I was not expecting.
When it comes to the unexpected or to change, I struggle, like most people. Can I right myself though?
If we tilt very far toward one way of living or thinking or being, we’re more likely to topple over. So, I try to remember to remain within some level of my own middle ground. Much of the world struggles with this, in terms of governments or communities or families or individuals.
Change, we think, often means progress, going forward. Suddenly, then along comes the kind of change that feels like it threatens to take us backward. What feels wrong to one person feels oh so right, like going home, back to the way things used to be, should be.
I am not a poet, or am I? I try harder. I try to learn from a man who was, a Canadian legend of a man, who wrote poetry, and novels, and lyrics.
I try to listen, even now, to his voice, in interviews. As he aged and his voice became lower and lower, and deeper and deeper, he kept on learning and discovering what it all meant to be alive.
As I experienced his voice, Growing up, his voice in the songs I had no real connection to, it made me uncomfortable. I can only describe the feeling as one of unsettled. It was all so somber and even frightening. Life, as I realize more and more, is often about allowing oneself to feel the discomfort and all that is often so very unsettling.
A lot of these things that happen, that happened this week, are unsettling in a whole new kind of way. They aren’t all about peace and live and let live, not like a batch of Leonard Cohen lyrics. I realize now that he was sharing all that life can feel like.
We all have our position on a number of issues, key issues that affect us. Some things don’t touch us, hardly at all, or not at all. We can’t possibly listen to every song ever made.
For a long time I have done my best to respect that everyone of us has various positions on the things that matter and those that matter not as much, perhaps, to different people. This becomes harder and harder, which just means the stakes are bigger and bigger.
I stay in my bubble of a life, surrounding myself with other people that often share my sentiments on most things. This can be dangerous, or has proven to be, for not just myself. No wonder, then, that it comes as a shock how other people feel. We do ourselves a huge disservice by not trying to learn what else there is, going on, that another person might just be feeling, in the place where another lives. It’s so very hard to meet another, somewhere in the middle of the road. Some of us would rather walk alone than even try.
Not everybody can write poetry. Not everyone wants to. I should say, anyone could, if they acknowledged the anger but allowed themselves to feel the fear. Art makes things that are so often unbearable, bearable, or just a little less unbearable anyway.
I see greed and fear and unbending, unyielding unwillingness all around, the unwillingness to let life teach us, to admit we don’t know it all. I label these things, as being what is, though I really can’t say, should not say, for sure, at all.
I want to never stop hearing beautiful things, as the ugly is so easy to find, and to produce my own lyrical thought. I want to learn what makes people do and say what they do and say. Human beings will never stop being fascinating to me, for what causes them to be and do it all.
So, why should I be surprised at both the expected and the unexpected in life anyway? I’m not, of either one.
It’s time for another Finish The Sentence Friday
after a particularly rough week. Though, surprise surprise, whether expected or not, life was always like that.