Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Life and the Indigo Girls

Last night, I was at an Indigo Girls concert at Humphrey's by the Bay. It was my fourth IG concert at Humphrey's; kind of a summer ritual.

It was fifteen years ago that I first heard the Girls, at a summer concert at Oaks Amusement Park in Portland. It was beautiful as only summer in the Northwest can be; mild, green, light until late. I hadn't heard much of the Indigo Girls before this, and this was an ideal introduction- a concert in an old amusement park, complete with skating rink and kiddie rides, where the seating was blankets spread out upon the soft, green grass. I went home from that trip with a few tapes and an admiration for the work of the Girls that continues to this day. I've actually become a bigger fan as the years have gone by; it wasn't until five years or so ago that I really started collecting all of their albums.

I have found since then many times in my life where the lyrics of an Indigo Girls song melds with an incident in my life. The one that immediately comes to mind is when I first heard "Ozilline," from the Come on Now Social album. I had just lost my beloved dog Jet after a long illness, and I remember sitting in front of the speakers sobbing.

I had to put the dog down
before I hit the road
yeah, I watched that sweet old life
become a bag of bones

After that, it was a couple of years before I could listen to that song. To this day, I cannot listen to it without crying, and in concert, when Amy picks up the mandolin and Emily the banjo, and "Ozilline" is the next song on the setlist, the tears stream down my face. But today, I also realize the power and beauty of the song as an affirmation of the circle of life, of life's processes and ebb and flow.

When we bought our land in La Center, one of the first things I did was create an iMovie of the film and snapshots I had taken on that journey, with a soundtrack from the Girls.

Up on the watershed
standing at the fork in the road
you can stand there and agonize
'til your agony's your heaviest load
you'll never fly as the crow flies
get used to a country mile
when you're learning to face
the path at your pace
every choice is worth your while

And, indeed, this was a watershed for us, filled with choices- the eventual move from San Diego County, where both Mike and I have spent most of our lives. And there was the physical presence of watersheds too- streams and rivers and waterfalls everywhere.

everywhere I turn
all the beauty just keeps shaking me
"World Falls"

And, lately, of course, the political climate and the hope for 2008...

What we get from your war walk
The ticker of the nation running down like a bad clock
I want the pendulum to swing again
So that all your mighty mandates were just spitting in the wind
"Pendulum Swinger"

And so it has gone, over the years. I hope there are many more concerts to come.

well I don't know where it all begins
and I don't know where it all will end
we're better off for all that we let in
"All That We Let In"


Anonymous said...

However, there are many, many more poetic quotes from Bob Dylan. I am thinking you may need to familiarize yourself more with his work.

Cris Waller said...

Hmpf. You haven't heard the Girls sing "Tangled Up in Blue" yet! :>D