I’m lost and I wish I were found, in the arms of My Darlin’ Hometown…

Alan LeQuire’s bronze and limestone sculpture presides over the Music Row Roundabout in my hometown of Nashville, intended to convey “the importance of music to Nashville”.  If you know much about my beloved South, you will understand that those easily offended (they’re naked!) called for its removal at its installation in 2003.  We all calmed down eventually, or at least got tired of shouting about it, and these days it is a mostly beloved iconic figure representing music in all its forms (we have a wonderful symphony too).  I love music, and many of my posts feature lines from songs I particularly enjoy and/or find relevant.  A case in point would be My Darlin’ Hometown, a song by the great John Prine that speaks to those of us who live far away from home.  My hope is that anyone interested might dig a little deeper, check out the music in question, or even better buy a song or a CD and give it a listen…you waste more money than that driving driving around every day, and music is much more fun!  (30 March, 2010  Nashville, TN)

We live in a land where silence is King…

When Gary Burr sang Silence is King, he might have been thinking about Manarola.  It’s the second smallest of the five tiny seaside villages that make up Italy’s Cinque Terre, and is inundated by the tourist hordes during daylight hours. The poor permanent inhabitants must hold their collective breath during each day’s onslaught, but at night peace and a more soothing pace returns to remind them why they stay. By dark-thirty, as they sit on their porches overlooking the Ligurian Sea, sipping wine and talking in low murmurs, the only sound’s the wind and the water far below.  Liguria is a coastal region of Italy, bounded by France to the west and Tuscany to the east.  It has been variously ruled by Romans, Byzantines, Lombards, Franks, Saracens, Normans, Milanese, French (repeatedly), Austrians, Sardinians, and of course the Germans…that’s a lot of national anthems to memorize!  Today, its people are Italians to the outside world, but as you find often in Italy many see themselves more as Ligurians, or even Manarolans.  After all, history has shown them the flags may change, but you still have to go down to the harbor to get the freshest seafood!  Go see the place at night some time…  not so many lights, but they are employed to effect.  (14 September, 2011  Manarola, Liguria, Italy)

They tell me I’m free, to find someone new. I just don’t have the heart, because I gave mine to you…

Before the discovery of oil, going down to the sea in ships was the best, if not safest, occupation in Norway.  Some people are called by the lure of the sea, while for some it’s simply a question of mouths to feed at home, but fishing checks in as the deadliest occupation worldwide and in almost every country that has a commercial fishery.  For much of its history, the primary occupation for most of Norway’s men was also the most dangerous job in the world… we assume leading to a disproportionately large population of widows.  As the country has been desperately poor for much of its history, this means a lot of poor widows as well.  I think this may contribute to Norwegians’ well-known stoicism.  They have much experience with hard work, loss, and picking yourself up and moving on when tragedy strikes, as it has often for them over the centuries.  These thoughts ran through my mind when I came across this statue on the edge of some woods near Oslo.  I don’t know the artist’s mind, but I see this young woman holding her infant son as a fisherman’s wife, her expression slightly anxious but also resolved.  I imagine her keeping the home fires burning, and dealing with what had to be dealt with if it came, and running through my head is Gary Burr’s song about what happens when you’ve made a promise to someone who’s gone.  (30 August, 2011 Ekebergparken, Oslo, Norway)