Sunday, April 09, 2006

Listen to the River Sing Sweet Songs to Rock My Soul

It's weird that Manhattan is completely surrounded by rivers but there's no almost no places where you can actually touch the water. The rivers are completely docked over (notable exception is the park just below the GW Bridge). Just thinking about rivers today, I feel some sort of connection to the water. I grew up not far from the water and I'm always drawn to it for some reason. Every now and again I need to walk along the shore here or across a bridge, maybe to remind myself that I am on an island here or to reassure me that the water is nearby. There's something calming about moving water, even when it's dirty and polluted. Still water like lakes and ponds don't seem to have the same affect- it's got to be moving. I love the smell of the water. I know others can't stand the salty, fishy smell but I enjoy it. It smells like my childhood.

So regarding this post's title-(hit play on the embedded player at the top now if you haven't already) it's lyrics from one of the best songs ever written- Brokedown Palace by the Grateful Dead. The song was written by their lyricist Robert Hunter on the same day he wrote 2 other songs, including another favorite of mine Ripple. Together those two songs are the perfect rainy day/sunny day companions. Brokedown Palace is melancholy and mournful while Ripple is full of hope.
Brokedown Palace:

Goin to plant a weeping willow
On the banks green edge it will grow grow grow
Sing a lullaby beside the water
Lovers come and go - the river roll roll roll

Fare you well, fare you well
I love you more than words can tell
Listen to the river sing sweet songs
to rock my soul
If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

It's a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken
Perhaps they're better left unsung
I don't know, don't really care
Let there be songs to fill the air

The fact that he wrote both these songs in a single day is mind blowing. Truly inspirational lyrics and imagery. Both appear on the American Beauty album. Both songs mention going "home" which is one of the most powerful words when applied conceptually. Home represents different things to different people but in the end it's almost always a positive place and something we seek out. A place of comfort. Also the two songs sort of represent this weekend, dark and dreary one day, sunny and springlike the next.

For your listening should already be listening to a version of Brokedown Palace from Madison Square Garden 9/20/87. It's companion for today is an acoustic version of Ripple from 9/26/80. Enjoy:

category: life_ music_