We all have them, songs that seem to touch a secret place in your soul – sometimes secret even from you. They can grow and occasionally fester like an open wound, or they can fill you up, inspire you, and occasionally even heal you. Sometimes they don't even reflect your musical tastes. They can be shameful secrets that you keep from family and friends. You feel like a drug addict craving your next fix. At times like those you thank the powers that be for MP3 players – the syringe of those suffering with this affliction.
This is the eleventh installment of songs that touch my soul and as always this edition is full of passion, desire, and lust. This is a form of therapy, this sharing of my neuroses, my secret inner lunacy, the big ball of crazy that is me. I know it's been awhile, but this edition marks the end of writers block…. I hope.
This is an ode to my adopted home country Scotland. A country that has given so much to our modern world; to quote Voltaire "We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilization." Scotland is a country of amazing people and achievements. It is because of the Scots that we enjoy so many conveniences and necessities in life, as the Scots are the inventors of much of the modern world. Things we take for granted from, tarmac, the telephone, television, the post office, radio, and the fax machine; to things you couldn't live without like, antiseptic, anesthesia, penicillin, the MRI machine, hypodermic syringe, and beta-blockers.
It was during the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th century, that the fathers of many of the modern sciences (geology, economics, chemistry, engineering, and medicine among many) lived, thought, and worked in the heart of Edinburgh's New Town – which they also designed and built. Men like Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, Adam Smith, Thomas Reid, Adam Ferguson, John Playfair, Joseph Black, and James Hutton are some of Scotland's greatest sons. Even the American Constitution can find most of its ideas and ideals in the philosophy of David Hume and America's economic principals (capitalism) are based on the works of Adam Smith. Quite a resume for a country that has never had a population of much more than five million people.
“Flower of Scotland” is the unofficial anthem, that talks of military victory; but really it speaks to most Scots hearts of their strength, of what they have overcome and what they have accomplished, frequently against ridiculous odds. After nine years living in Edinburgh I can attest to the unfair, sometimes neglectful treatment of the Scots by the English who usually treat Scotland like the ugly red-headed step-children; which is a problem, as we are meant to be a United Kingdom. But as devolution evolves and Scotland becomes a completely independent country again, hopefully the Scots will once again shine as innovators on the new world stage, in science, religious diversity, and social acceptance.
"Seven Years" – Norah Jones
My daughter just celebrated her 15th birthday. As I watch her grow-up, both outside and inside, I find myself more and more remembering what a sweet, perfect, happy little girl she was; and I marvel at the transformation. In such a short time she has gone from innocent, sweet, perpetually cheerful, and full of wonder to, beautiful, intelligent, sensitive, and more sensible than I have ever been (not sure where she gets that actually), and now she is nearly full grown. Every time I hear "Seven Years" I remember one particular autumn afternoon. My daughter Ysabeau (pronounced E-sa-bow) and I were raking leaves together, well I was raking she was playing in the pile. Every time I got it big enough she would jump into the middle scattering the bright red and orange leaves everywhere, and like crisp crumbs (British for potato chips — chips of course is British for French fries) the crunchy leaves were becoming smaller and smaller, and more difficult to rake, but I didn't care. Her joyous giggling ringing through the crisp air was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, nothing will ever compare.
The simple, elegant lyrics of "Seven Years", perfectly capture every moment of that day, as if Norah had been watching us. "Spinning, laughing, dancing to her favourite song/ A little girl with nothing wrong/ Is all alone," and "Crooked little smile on her face/ Tells a tale of grace/ That's all her own". Norah's caressing, loving vocals feel like my own heart's voice singing to the memory of that long-lost little girl. Lost to time, maturity, and her own insistence that she isn't a little girl anymore. Lost but not forgotten, never forgotten.