Monday, May 24, 2010

Disc One, Track 8

It's not often that I'm surprised by something I already know. So it was a matter of minor shock when The Proclaimers reached out, mid-playlist, and punched me in the ear with a song I'd listened to for years, but never really heard.
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A minor digression. The Proclaimers are -- apart from my favorite band, and the subject of my very first blog post -- identical twin Scottish folk singers who belt the hell out of whatever passes their lips. When you can understand them through the brogue, and even when you can't, they weave tight harmonies of loss and longing, the joys and woes of marriage and drink, Scottish nationalism, and struggles with faith -- my bread and butter, minus the Scottish nationalism.
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Anyway, so the twins are balladeering their way through their second-most recent album, Life With You -- not my personal favorite but near the top -- and they launch into Track 8 on Disc One -- also not my favorite, and a song I've never paid much attention to. And I continued not paying much attention to it until the final two verses, when Craig and Charlie interrupted my day of webseries-editing and box-packing with familiar lyrics that somehow, this time, drilled their way through my passive listening and rang bells in my brain:
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So you need to take your hate and doubt and fear
Distill them through your work til they run clear
Till they run right through your art like highland rain
If you want to hold the flame
You harness pain, you harness pain
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I set down the handful of CDs, perked my ears. You know how sometimes you vaguely know something, but aren't able to put it to words until someone else articulates it in front of you, at which point you blurt out "Yes, that's it exactly!"? It was kind of like that, except I knew what words were coming next. I braced myself, and let them wash over me.
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Do you want to be the best or be well known?
Do you want to repeat lines or write your own?
Do you want to follow paths or blaze a trail?
When you try to succeed you'll mostly fail
And you're gonna lose and lose and lose again
If you want to hold the flame
You harness pain, you harness pain
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I sat at the computer and replayed those verses a handful of times, and after that I wrote this. Such moments, unplanned and unassuming, have a tendency to jump out and punch you straight through the bullshit, leaving you "huh"-ing and sucking at the grains of wisdom stuck in your teeth.

1 comment:

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