Away From Home

Currently listening: Stan Rogers - First Christmas, and The Idiot

I grew up listening to Stan Rogers (wikipedia). He's a canadian folk singer that my parents have loved for years. They listened to him when they lived up north, before I was born. He died in a commercial airplane crash in 1983, just 43 days before I first drew breath.

Sometimes when I close my eyes and listen to him sing it challenges my disbelief in reincarnation and the 'here on earth' afterlife. There certainly is a part of my spirit that hearkens to his words and voice at a very structural level.

These two songs both touch me deeply and for very different reasons. The Idiot is a passionate song about independence and self-reliance.

It is a call to move where the money is, and take survival and personal pride as a person's primary motivators, abandoning comfort and luxury and what is 'easy' in favor of what is real, what is free, and what is right, even when the work is hard. It's a call that I respect and hope I am always ready to answer. Part of taking this new job of mine is being "the idiot" and doing what I know to be my work, instead of staying where the meals are free and I can wake up whenever I like.

First Christmas stands in direct contrast to the hopeful promise of the Idiot's refrain. It is a woeful dirge about the heartbreak that comes into a life lived in solitude, especially during those times and seasons when we celebrate community and family.

Each story that it tells (and it tells three) is a tale of strength and independence but also a heartfelt cry of pain and loss. I know that I will have my share of these times, and I use this song to remind myself that even in the midst of my joy there are those around me, down the street or just around the corner, who suffer. It lends me a compassion I sometimes forget if left to my own devices.

I wrote a post some time ago about music as a mood effector, and I very often use Stan Rogers for this exact purpose. He's an amazing artist.

In preparing this post today I gathered a collection of music of my father's to review before I leave for my new life away from home. My father's stash of Stan Rogers was one of the primary motivators for that. I'll be attempting to amass a more thorough collection of his work myself after I establish myself in Georgia.

The picture, by the way, is James Dean, and for some reason his determined face and steady gait on a completely abandoned city street sums up my feelings nicely today.

Friday, October 14, 2005


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