i just got back from the dar williams show up in boulder not so long ago. i’m not doing links today because, frankly, i’ve gotten fewer than 5 hours of sleep the past two nights and can’t be bothered at this juncture. but y’all are resourceful and know how to google.
ah… dar. background time… the very first dar song i ever heard was “iowa (traveling iii)” from mortal city. (traveling i and ii are on the honesty room) that’s the song captioned in the title. i heard it at the neutral ground coffee co-op in new orleans where my friend colleen was playing a gig in 1997. she never did covers except for that song, and tracy chapman’s “the promise.” anyhow, i heard it and i was hooked. and if you’ve ever asked me the question, “What’s your favorite _________?” you know i’ll give you a dirty look because i have a difficult time picking favorites of anything… but dar williams is one of my hands-down favorite musicians.
i’ve struggled my whole life with my aching desire to be a songwriter and the sad reality that i’m not a good one by a long shot… however, every time i’ve had the overwhelming desire to do so, it’s after listening to a new dar williams album. the green world which was released in 2000 was one of those albums full of those gems, where i couldn’t even listen to a whole song without sketching out an idea for a song – not that sounded like what i was listening to but that helped me open up an idea for lyrics and melody. granted, the songs rarely stuck around, but it happened nonetheless. and i had never seen her until 2000 when i took my friend david to see her in atlanta (i was living in athens, he was living in south carolina). then i took my roommate to see her in athens in march 2001. in may of that year i moved to maine. in july of that year she played the next town over, so i saw her then, too. but since those 3 times i haven’t seen her and oh, was last night wonderful.
i went up to boulder by myself – i’m still not really in the mood to see people (but just aching to talk on the phone/online either about happy stuff or sad stuff) and got there about halfway through the opening act, girlyman who were really good… folk trio who wander into bluegrass now and then. and then do fun things like in the middle of a bluegrassy song about how the singer thought every person was actually gay and was trying to convert straight women to her side, they broke into a version of “genie in a bottle.” which was just amusing. they closed with the gay male version of “son of a preacher man.” they were really good.
and dar came on at 9 and opened, with (of all things) a cover of “comfortably numb” which was oddly appropriate and perfect for me at the moment. on a tangent, she got married and had a kid since last i’ve seen her. her 2 most recent albums seem to have her husband’s influences on them. it’s not good or bad, it just is. anyhow, “comfortably numb” (not really a pink floyd fan, i like some stuff, but by and large i never veer into that genre of music) was well done and of the precise emotional timbre of my own personal self.
my hips were aching by the end of the night because i’m a falling apart old lady, and i was leaning on the bar which put weird pressure on them. it’s neither here nor there. i’m just inviting you to share in my experience fully. onward.
she did another one of her new songs which was SO appropriate to last night in particular and my life in general that i can’t even begin to explain, “i’ll miss you till i meet you.” there were old songs and new songs, and the song that caught me off guard.
“after all.” it’s the song that from the first time i heard it i thought was the perfect echo of my own experiences… going from deep depression to the other side, sometimes getting stuck in the sadness other times. and she talked about it in a way that i had never thought of before. she was the type of person who when she was depressed, she was able to link it to the fact that she is one of those people who gives to the world to make it a better place. (you with me on the corrollary, so far?) and they give and give and give until they feel empty, because they’ve forgotten that they are a part of the world they’re trying to make
safer better and have spent so much time giving to others that they have spent zero time giving to themselves. and don’t spend time on their “inner neighborhood” as it were and give to the rest of the world until they’re empty on the inside. (if you’re not with me on what this has to do with me, i don’t know what to tell you)
i lied – here’s a link to the lyrics. and anyhow, my daddyhead emigrated here from the philippines, my mom grew up in the typical middle-america post-war family. they fell madly in love and eloped a few months after meeting… one of the great romances you hear about… they had two daughters and were married for nearly 37 years. anyhow, the point is, i completely fell apart in the boulder theater leaning on the bar during this song. but then i got better.
she’s started the echoes initiative (go to her official website for more info. google, remember?) and talked about beads for life which supports women in uganda – yay for small enterprise development! because it’s a good cause, i’ll tell you the bead for life site is here.
all in all, dar’s performance was about 2 hours. her last song of the primary set was the always good-time-inducing “as cool as i am” which is good considering the bad rap women get for being nasty to each other. i love other women! they don’t always love me, but that’s another post for another day. anyhow, then was the curtain call (which is SO weird to me. they go away, you know they’ll come back again, but you have to keep clapping anyway)
she did “christians and the pagans” which hasn’t been my favorite song but is one of her most popular ones, and is definitely amusing. and finally, she ended with “iowa” here are some of the genius lines in that song:
“but way back where I come from,
we never mean to bother,
we don’t like to make our passions other peoples concern,
and we walk in the world of safe people,
and at night we walk into our houses and burn. “
“how i long to fall just a little bit
to dance out of the lines and stray from the light
but i fear that to fall in love with you
is to fall from a great and gruesome height”
“so for you i came this far across the tracks
ten miles above the limit and with no seatbelt and i’d do it again.
for tonight i went running through the screen doors of discretion
for i woke up from a nightmare that i could not stand to see.
you were a-wandering out on the hills of iowa,
and you were not thinking of me…”
then the show ended, i collected myself and wandered around thepearl street mall for a little while. it was chilly. it was surprisingly dead for a saturday night, too. then i drove home and couldn’t sleep again. i didn’t fall asleep until almost 6 am and have been up since 930. now my dilemma is do i power through and stay awake until 9 pm or take a nap right now?
i just don’t know…. but i had such a good night last night… it was so good…
update: so i TOTALLY lied and didn’t link to the “after all” lyrics, and instead linked to MooCow in drag… sorry moo… i’ve fixed it now. at least that was totally unintentional an therefore totally funny when i checked to see what i linked to… at least someone professed their love for you in the comments…