Most weeks, a playlist has been just that — a playlist of songs that I’m listening to, and that is that. I suppose this week's is no different in that regard – it is a list of songs that I, yes, happen to be listening to, but probably for more poignant reasons than ever before – or at least, since I began the List of the Moment.
To see a friend in crisis is to suffer. To see someone you love, a family member, a true friend, someone you really, really love and to be unable to do a damn thing about it except stand there and shuffle your feet like an idiot or stand there with your palms loosely at your sides like two blank opals is the worst feeling I have experienced in a long time.
Yes, we cannot play savior. We cannot save, no matter how much we may want to. We cannot undo what has been done, nor can we predict the future or stop what the future has in store for us, for the future is what it is and though no Calvinist I, I do know that there are just things – perhaps illness, for instance, that will take its slow or not so slow and steady course – that will leave us all careening down that mountain and there isn’t a damn thing we can do about it; but as if watching some horrific nightmare, knowing that when we can, if we can, we will do what we can to help. Perhaps just knowing that someone cares enough to write this makes some small modicum of a difference. One can only hope so.
This week’s list, I offer up to my cousin.
"Tiny Dancer" by Elton John: Yes, it was on the soundtrack to Almost Famous and why not? It was a fabulous film and the song remains a fabulous song at that. In this case, I can’t help but think of someone I know who must weigh, what, not more than a hundred pounds, if half that, and who could fit on the top of a jewelry box and dance there as a small ballerina, pink-skirted and sweet. Yes, this list is a personal one, if you didn’t read the prologue, now you know. So if some of the songs are repeats, then this week’s list is a sentimental one for how could it not be when I see a friend in real crisis and reach out. So read on and know that every song here, on this list anyway, has special meaning this week – perhaps for you too, but this week and perhaps forever, for me, this week is particularly poignant.
"You Were Always on My Mind" by Willie Nelson: I used to really hate this song. The thought of just being “always on someone’s mind” just wasn’t enough for me. It seemed almost insulting. You either were there or were not. Now, perhaps as I have grown older, I have a different understanding of the song, that no matter what happened during this relationship – even perhaps awful infidelities, which to me are the worst – that perhaps just being on someone’s mind would not be enough (not for me anyway, so Willie still loses me there) but this week, all I want to say is that you are right now always on my mind. Every minute of every day. You are there. You are just in the forefront, and there is nothing I can about it, no matter how much I may will it so not to be, it is you and it is she, in dreams and in waking life.
"Mirrorball" by Everything but the Girl: Perhaps it’s the September birthday mentioned here and that we share this or perhaps it is something else, I can’t say, but the lyrics here just ring true. As she sings, “Well I guess some boys adored me, but the ones I loved ignored me.” Isn’t that life — a. chasing, b. chasing, c. all around the garden path? I’ll let most of the lyrics do the talking here, since I think that particular part may or may not apply, but certainly, the rest of the song does apply, or to my mind it does.
"Wild Horses" by The Rolling Stones: Well, you could not drag me away from this situation or many situations for that matter (my marriage for starters) but this one as well, simply because it and the people in it mean far too much to me. So no, wild horses couldn’t drag me away and he’d do well to remember it, so in case he’s forgotten or did not or does not know, then I suppose I’ve outed myself here for the first time and in public at that. Ah well, sigh, tant pis as they say. I do not keep secrets very well and why should I?
"Through My Tears" by Neutral Milk Hotel: This I’m just listening to. No special significance here, I just really like this song a lot and if you’re willing to give Neutral Milk a chance, then you’ll really like this one, too. Yes, it’s live and he’s goofing off a bit, but there is something incredibly romantic about the way this song is sung, and more, there has always been something romantic about this song, amen.
"Do You Realize" by the Flaming Lips: Well, I doubt very much either person realizes here, but the truth is, sometimes or at different times, the expression on someone can be so beautiful and perhaps that can be borne of exquisite pain or exquisite joy. Either or. In this case, I would say a mixture of both. "Do You Realize" is a great, great song and it ends great as well because some day we all will die and perhaps this person will have to deal with that sooner than the rest of us and this much, kids, breaks my freakin’ heart – I can’t even spell out this kind of remorse, for how do you spell out the remorse you feel when it's someone else’s loss and you are helpless to help the person you love? It’s a conundrum. You’re stuck. Truly stuck. There are no easy answers, and no song will provide that, perhaps it will at least send the right message, or perhaps every song on this list sends the right message. I pray so.
"Slave to Love" by Bryan Ferry: Well, again, here is another that I just happen to have on the playlist because I’m a nostalgic bitch and these days, I do feel a bit like a slave to love, even if not a romantic love and a different kind of love, because I feel helpless and there are few things worse in life than standing about and wanting to save the day and knowing damn well that you just can’t. This is my position. This is where I live. In the in-between days of twilight, shuffling my feet and kicking at the sand, not knowing anymore quite when it is right to reach out and when it is wrong. One feels stuck. So I suppose then there is more than just my nostalgia here and so, this song too makes the list for the same reasons as the others.
"Time after Time" by Cindy Lauper: I know this song has made the list before, and even recently, so you need not remind me. In this case, it’s on the playlist and remember, this is the List of the Moment and I’m not about to lie about what’s on my playlist so deal with it – if not, skip this part and move on to Bob Dylan or read above. For this one, just the lyrics tell the tale:
- Sometime you pictured me, I'm walking too far ahead
You're callin' to me, I can't hear what you've said
You said, "Go slow, I fall behind"
The second hand unwinds…
If you're lost, you can look and you will find me,
Time after time
If you fall I will catch you, I'll be waiting,
Time after time
I turn, my picture fades, and darkness has turned to grey
Watching through windows, you're wondering if I'm okay
Secrets, stolen, from deep inside,
The drum beats out of time…
"Oh, Sister" by Bob Dylan: I have a friend who calls this one of Bob Dylan’s sleazier coercion songs, but I totally disagree. It may well be a song about trying to get a girl into bed in some sense but what the heck is wrong with that? Since when did making love become a crime? I don’t mean sex, I mean making love. Or did our BD never do that or not mean that at this point in his life? Okay, I’m willing to buy that maybe he didn’t mean it then, but it’s a sweet melody and it’s on my playlist this week and hence, it’s on yours as well.
"Le Ciel Dans Le Chambre" by Carla Bruni: This French singer Carla Bruni really hit it out of the park with Quel’qun Ma Dit which is just a beautiful song and was the running background theme of Le Divorce, but if you ask me, this is a far more intense song of hers and beautiful. The lyrics, though in French can be loosely translated…first in French:
Quand tu es près de moi,
Cette chambre n'a plus de parois,
Mais des arbres oui, des arbres infinis,
Et quand tu es tellement près de moi,
C'est comme si ce plafond-là,
Il n'existait plus, je vois le ciel penché sur nous… qui restons ainsi,
Abandonnés tout comme si,
Il n'y avait plus rien, non plus rien d'autre au monde,
J'entends l'harmonica… mais on dirait un orgue,
Qui chante pour toi et pour moi,
Là-haut dans le ciel infini,
Et pour toi, et pour moi
Then loosely in English:
- When you are close to me,
This room does not have any more walls,
But infinite trees yes, trees,
And when you are so much close to me,
It is like if this ceiling,
It does not exist any more,
I see the sky lean on we… who remain thus,
Abandoned just like if,
they were nothing, either
nothing other in the world,
I hear the harmonica… but one would say an organ,
Which sings for you and me ….