It’s beautiful outside. Just bought my tomatoes. What, did you think cold winter was gonna last forever?
This is my favorite video of this song.
A new feature I’m trying. I share a lot of links on my Facebook page, to other blogs, sometimes to news articles. Then my conservative, religious or libertarian friends yell at me, I yell back and a good time is had by all. Which is great if you are my Facebook friend (if you aren’t my FB friend, well why not? I’m Facebook Easy; note I unfriend 9/11 truthers on sight). But why limit the reach of my linkage to my Facebook friends when I can add a link here and nab both of my blog readers as well, besides it will automatically get linked to Facebook and Twitter anyways!
So my first installment will be to Doug Muder’s excellent blog The Weekly Sift. He specializes in big thinky pieces and excels at the seemingly forgotten art of the long form blog.
Today’s piece is a review of former Maine Representative Tom Allen’s new book “Dangerous Convictions:What’s Really Wrong with the U.S. Congress”, a book that is on its way to my Kindle App as we type. The Sift does a great job of hitting the salient points so go read there, because as the title says, he’s a Better Blogger than I.
Here’s a tease.
So the typical liberal/conservative debate in Congress these days looks like this: The liberal will present an evidence-based expertise-based plan to, say, deal with the economy’s measurable lack of demand by spending money to fix our roads and bridges. The conservative will respond with unquantifiable, uncheckable assertions that debt will destroy business confidence, and that unemployment will go down if we stop coddling the unemployed with extended benefits and instead cut regulations to give the “job creators” more freedom.
Where can the conversation go from there? There is literally nothing to talk about. As Allen says:
Our political polarization and dysfunctional public debate is largely driven by convictions and worldviews immune to contrary evidence and expertise.
Then go back and read everything else he has ever written. Go on… there will be a test…
So why am I a ginormous Indigo Girls fan? Why am I one of those people in the crowd who knows the song they are playing by the end of the first chord? That still freaks out the girl a little bit. I guess it starts way back in the 90′s when I heard this song on 97X (BAM! the future of Rock and Roll)
First and aside about WOXY, modern rock, and the misunderstood term “alternative” music. A few years ago on A Prairie Home Companion, host Garrison Keillor, after a performance by Wilco asked (I’m paraphrasing from memory) something to the effect of; “They call you guys alternative, but ‘alternative’ to what? That just sounded good!”. Here Keillor makes the mistake a lot of folks make in trying to use “alternative” to define a sound or style of music. What alternative means to me is not a style of music, but instead a style of music programming. What made WOXY “alternative” was not that they played a bunch of music that fit a certain style or genre, but that they eschewed genre almost altogether and just programmed music that “just sounded good” to their dj’s and their listeners. And they were unafraid to mix things up. So you could hear Tori Amos, the Nine Inch Nails, REM, The Throwing Muses, classic Ramones, and then an Indigo Girls tune back to back to back. Which is how I got clued in to this duo from Georgia singing about an Italian astronomer.
Back to the tunes…
It didn’t start out as fanaticism like my Over the Rhine fandom, it was something that grew slowly, building purchase by purchase, release after release. The Indigo Girls became the comforting voice that filled the cold and scary times of my life with warmth, intelligence and passion. By the time their excellent double live album “1200 Curfews” was released I was a dedicated fan. It was to see the Girls live for the first time that I went to the first Lilith Fair tour at Riverbend. This is what they opened with and it still blows me away.
That’s actually from the current tour. The young men forming much of the band are the Shadowboxers , who are just adorable, even though their sound isn’t quite up my alley they are damn talented and I expect them to grow into something pretty cool.
I could go on and on and on talking about the Girls activism for LGBT rights, Amy Ray’s solo albums, their support for independent artists, the way that consistently prove to be very cool people as well as accomplished artists, but that’s what wikipedia articles are for. I’ll end for now by saying that I have more to say about my favorite band, but 500 words at a time is all my brain will bang out right now. More to come in future installments. Seriously, I might end up going album by album at some point.
PS: There, I wrote a blog post… can I go back to blowing up large sections of Pandora now?
So I let the blog go fallow for a couple of weeks and I’m not even getting spam anymore… Will fix that soon!
This is my FAVORITE SONG OF ALL THE SONGS!!!!
This is my SECOND FAVORITE SONG OF ALL THE SONGS!!!
Ok… I’ll calm down…
NO I CAN”T CALM DOWN!!!
It has been ten long years since I have been to an Indigo Girls show. That is TOO FUCKING LONG!!!
That song wasn’t even RELEASED ten years ago!!!
Breathe man… deep cleansing breaths…
I’ll explain this later… I promise…
I’m linking to it, as well as reprinting it as a page on the masthead on the off chance you don’t want to give Patheos any money. This pledge is the culmination of a good two years of blogging and back and forth discussion on Dan’s blog about the feasibility of promoting civil discourse on the internet. It is far reaching and incredibly well thought out. Just following the discussion has led me to moderate my language and reconsider some of my long held positions on how to deal with Trolls and other refuse on the intertubes.
And I’ve been one of the gadfly’s in this discussion. I am going to fail to uphold a lot of this pledge because I firmly believe that there are lines that once crossed, forfeit one the right to be treated civilly. In cases such as that the best thing to do is most likely to disengage as best as you can. And in cases like the horrible people who harass Ophelia Benson, Stephanie Zvan, Rebecca Watson and others in the skeptical and atheist movement on a weekly basis… well I’m likely to lose my temper.
I have another reservation. I recommend reading the whole Pledge. I recommend reading everything Dan writes, even the stuff about the dreary Christopher Nolan Batman films that I have grown tired of. He’s an incredibly intelligent and reasonably friendly fellow. The very fact that he and I can have silly spats on Facebook about careerist hack Andrew Sullivan is one of the miracles of the modern age, and I cherish those conversations even when I come out of them feeling like I’m on the short end of the stick.
Because lets face it. He’s a college professor, a full on practicing philosopher.
I’m a two time college drop out with a Chomsky fetish and an internet connection. If it weren’t for the Girl there’s a good chance I would be typing this as part of a Manifesto from my Unabomber cabin.
Giving up on vitriol feels a bit like disarming. Snark is part of my armor, it helps keep the bad guys at arms length. It’s easier to make forceful and eloquent arguments without resorting to personal attacks when you have been training your whole life for it. Some of us are just dudes (and dudettes) with blogs trying to sort out the world. Give us some slack as we catch up.
But I’m signing anyway, even if I honor the pledge as often in the breech as in practice. I have The Hellions to watch over, and their world is likely going to be even more interconnected by this internet thingy. I suppose it behooves me to model the kind of world I want them to grow up in, even if that means I become a relic of a less enlightened age.
The mid Nineties were a weird time for me. As a pretty naive nerd boy I made my first tentative steps into the wider world. I made my best friends ever, moved out of my parents house, then back in, then back out again. I fell in love for the first time, actually got engaged at one point, and then crashed hard when that relationship hit the rocks. I’m incredibly lucky that she and I have remained friends to this day. I spent the latter half of that decade pretty lonely though, until the strange day in 2000 when I was lucky enough to sit down next to this Girl at Kaldi’s and had my life changed forever.
In between loves I struggled, desperate at times, sometimes resigned. Music got me through a lot of it. One artist in particular flitted into my view as I shelved her cd’s at my job at the now defunct Arc Distributing ( a “one stop warehouse” for local music distribution, I used to describe us as the colon of the music industry). That artist was Dar Williams, and for a few years she became my imaginary girlfriend. I sincerely hope that doesn’t come off as too creepy, but there it is. When I was at my loneliest I could pop her cassette into my aging walkman and escape for a time, a time in which this intelligent and clever songwriter delivered a picture of the world that wasn’t dark. Melancholy at times and never saccharine, always delivered with hope and humor.
Dar Williams is much more than another product of the New England folk scene. A graduate of Wesleyan University with a sharp sense of humor and a firm grasp of Humanist principles and an appreciation for conceptual art, Dar’s music can be a quirky Christmas carol of “The Christians and the Pagans” , or the forceful defense of the avant garde in “I won’t be your Yoko Ono” (click on both links, the story is as good as the song), or a simple story of love lost and found like “February”.
On her 2005 album My Better Self, she started a conversation on the concept of “paying it forward” in the song “Echoes”, as well as a brutal indictment of the Bush administration and American empire with “Empire” and “Beautiful Enemy”. I’m still digesting “In the Time of the Gods“, but the closing track “Storm King” certainly ranks with any of her best.
I had trouble picking just one video, but I really like this one.
Youtube comment (yes a sane Youtube comment) from TheMeemeister summed up this song, and my opinion of Dar Williams really well.
For a tomboy like myself – a tree climber, fisherman, horse rider, explorer – dirty dusty and totally content to be my boy self this song so poignant touches me with longing for that freedom – those places I once was free enough to live. I think I cried the first time I heard this with recognition that I was not the only one. Let’s hear it for all the girls’ inner boys and all the boys’ inner girls.