Sunday, February 10, 2008
Posted by gitfiddler at 12:00 AM
"Then suddenly I hear my guitar singin'
And so I just start singin' along
And somewhere in my chest
All the noise just gets crushed by the song."
-Ani DiFranco (from "imagine that")
So I know that adoration of Ani DiFranco isn't a universally shared pastime. And I know that sometimes it's hard to escape her cuz she's so doggone prolific and her music is so widely embraced in this twenty-something Western/progressive/hippy/GLBTA female subculture of ours.
But what can I say? I just had to post this one while I'm on this spirit guitarist kick cuz that's what Ani is!
For all the slapping, popping, ripping and knocking sounds that this woman gets out of a guitar, it's sometimes forgotten that she can also make it sing like few others can. It's also easy to see her music as one mountainous pile of songs since she has made more albums in 15 years than many musicians make in a lifetime. But I have to say that from my own experience, it's not the volume of Ani's work that astonishes me, but the intricacy of each song and how so many of them seem to fit my life like my clothing fits my body. And any artist who can do that ONCE, much less over and over again, has wicked-hella skills and deserves wicked-hella props.
This song is a clip from Ani's movie "Render". And I'm warning you now that this entry is gonna drip with sentiment because this particular song pulls miles out of my heart every time I hear it. The first time I saw this movie, I was at a place in my life where I was deeply in love with the act and atmosphere of growing up (a feeling that college life stirs in many people). And I remember how moved I was by the purple and gold grace of the Tiny Folksinger standing there and smiling to herself as her guitar literally sighs from chord to chord (listen to the first five chords and TELL me there's not a sigh in there!...right as the audience is screaming adorations at her)). And then she starts to dance and sway around the stage with the music in between verses! This song talks about some heavy stuff! It's not easy to stomach and it's really sad. But the way she delivers it seems so graceful to me that it's easier to sidestep the guilt and the alienation one might otherwise feel if someone was soapboxing this stuff.
The song isn't demanding that other people agree with what she's singing about. You don't even have to like the music! You don't even have to listen! But the way she's playing it seems to transcend preoccupations with such things. In this country, where the Music Business is playing God in it's own version of Survival of the Fittest and where so many musicians are pruned instead of nurtured and supported and where so much of the music is killed long before it even reaches our ears, it's easy to forget that music was birthed out of the need to share and give and express. It's easy to forget about the time before community became audience and songs became performances. There are songs that remind us of those origins - even in the midst of a concert that we traveled miles and paid money to see....maybe that's why we travel and pay in the first place. Anyway, this song is one of those for me.
white people are so scared of black people.
they bulldoze out to the country, and put up houses on little loop-d-loop streets.
and while america gets its heart cut right out of its chest,
the berlin wall still runs downmain street separating east side from west.
and nothing is stirring, not even a mouse, in the boarded up stores and the broken down houses, so they hang colorful banners off all the street lamps just to prove they got no manners, no mercy, and no sense.
and i wonder then what it will take for my city to rise.
first we admit our mistakes and then we open our eyes. the ghost of old buildings are haunting parking lots in the city of good neighbors that history forgot.
i remember the first time i saw someone lying on the cold street, i thought, "i can't just walk past you, this can't just be true."
but i learned by example to just keep moving my feet.
it's amazing the things that we all learn to do.
so we're led by denial like lambs to the slaughter, serving empires of style and carbonated sugar water and the old farmroad's a four-lane that leads to the mall and my dreams are all guillotines waiting to fall
and i wonder then what it will take for my country to rise.
first we admit our mistakes and then we open our eyes.
'til nation's last taker succumbs to one last dumb decision and america the beautiful is just one big subdivision.