Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Traveling Mercies

Spottiswoode And His Enemies played their tenth anniversary show Saturday night at the Pub. I first experienced them last year during their residency at the Pub and they blew me away; Saturday's show was more reserved than the first time, but moody ambivalence seemed like the perfect punctuation mark for a week that started with the mayhem of SXSW and ended back at Joe's.

Like a couple of the bands I saw this week--and myself--Spottiswoode And His Enemies were fresh returned from Austin and reflective of the experience. Maybe March is the month for reflection; Lara just got back from Australia and when I spoke to her about the tour, she had a look in her eyes that seemed to be searching for meaning in the face of it all. Last night on stage at Pete's Candy Shop, trying to make the sound work when it wasn't gonna no matter how much you tweaked it, she looked out at the crowd and sighed, "it's a wonder music ever gets made." And then she made beautiful music despite the mic that didn't work and the monitor that kept giving out and the guitar that sounded like something other than a guitar.

This week, I've been thinking a lot about faith, rereading Anne LaMott and spending time with a miracle baby whose smile would have made Darth Vader skip and giggle like a jedi school girl. I'm usually a slow reader, but I re-digested Traveling Mercies at a gallop, the whole 275 pages in two days.

Music in general and singing along with a choir specifically is a metaphor and practical force of nature LaMott often turns to for inspiration and rumination in the book. At one point, she describes the transformation of a hardened, judgmental woman, reaching out during the morning hymn at church to help a man she had previously treated with some fear and trepidation. She says, "I can't imagine anything but music that could have brought about this alchemy. Maybe it's because music is about as physical as it gets: your essential rhythm is your heartbeat; your essential sound, the breath. We're walking temples of noise, and when you add tender hearts to this mix, it somehow lets us meet in places we couldn't get to any other way."

So, yeah. Let's all keep thinking about it, processing the whole deal, wondering how we're gonna earn a living and getting moody because it's taking so long and we keep sacrificing so much; but let's keep singing, because we're walking temples of noise with tender hearts and this is where we Ended Up.


Anonymous Jonny said...

I first met Anne Lamott thanks to you loaning Shannon your copy of "Traveling Mercies" and then she loaned it to me and then I finally bought it and then loaned it to someone and lost it and bought it again. Some books are THAT good.

So thanks.

1:43 PM  
Blogger Lauren said...

i must have this book you speak of.


10:09 AM  
Anonymous Donna said...

My Shakespeare quote-a-day calendar had this to say yesterday from Twelfth Night: "If music be the food of love, play on." I just got done with Anne Lamott's latest, and it has a good essay on dancing.

See you soon.

2:55 PM  

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