I’ve never known a band that would remind me of the sun as much as Fleet Foxes. No matter what song I’m listening to by them, there is always a scene with a gentle sunlight bathing the scene. It’s refreshing and light during a time of the year that can be hard to get through because of the snow and cold. This week after the recent snowpocalypse, I’ve been craving this folksy-bluesy music, dreaming of the spring and summer to come, of flowers, wearing skirts and spending afternoons perusing through shops with no hurry to be anywhere later in the day. I miss this. And when I listen to Fleet Foxes, I can see the scenes in my head as clear as I can see this computer sitting in my lap. I’m thankful that I was introduced to Fleet Foxes a few years ago by a friend from work. New Years Day, as we drove in her car over frost-heaved roads late at night to get the spare apartment key from my parent’s house (because I’d locked myself out), I listened to White Winter Hymnal and was forever grateful for that first exposure. Today, I’ll be sharing five songs with you and what I see when I listen to them. Enjoy.
White Winter Hymnal: The grass is a strange shade of yellow and green under the deep blue sky. Clouds like cotton swabs drifted lazily on the wind, off to a destination that she couldn’t conceive but secretly wanted to follow to. She sighed and shifted her arms beneath her head as she continued to look up. This was a weekend ritual, lying in the grass atop the hill yards away from the family farm. It was utterly quiet out there. It was simple, and it was lonely. But it was also so comforting as well. This was the life she’d known, the life she’d grown into. Morning chores, lessons, a little time in the afternoon to just lazily watch the world go by, and evening chores once again. It was a pattern that she doubted she’d see little variation in for a while. Somehow that was okay. Just as long as she had these moments where she could sit and stay still while the world spun. That was all right for her.
Sim Sala Bim: A little sea-side town where the sun always seems to be perpetually setting and the horizon is painted with a strange fusion of tropical and deep blues. The mornings consist of fisherman climbing aboard their scuffed boats, untangling nets and setting their eyes on the horizon, a hope blooming for a large catch that day. Dogs barking happily chased each other up and down the squeaky wooden boardwalks that seemed to caress the hills. Children laughed and stared into the distance, secretly awaiting the days adventures with rising fervor. Women gathered together in the market, laughing as they set up their booths and hung their colorful fabrics from lines in the afternoon breeze. The smell of salt and sand combs over the village, and brushes against skin as a beckon to come to the beach.
The Plains/Bitter Dancer: The bar seems hazy that evening. She almost didn’t remember walking inside and ordering her first drink. She’d just kept going, allowing the pain to find its way deeper with every gulp she took. Until she went to take that last sip and someone else’s fingers on the glass stopped her. She glanced to her side and saw her good friend, saw someone who looked at her with that same anguish mirrored on his face. He had every reason as her to be here, drinking his sorrows away. But instead, he pushed the glass down onto the bar counter, fished some money out of his wallet, and put it under the glass. Then he put his arm around her shoulders. “Come on. Let’s go.” Every part of her wanted to break down. What was left of her rationality forced her to stand on wobbly legs, gravity threatening to pull her down. They left the bar together, walking out int the icy wind of late November. (This is a scene from my apocalyptic novel.)
The Cascade: The fields passed by the car with a strange late-afternoon tranquility. The sun colored the stalks of grass gold and set the mountains in bronze shades. The shadows in the forests deepened the further along they drove, until the road turned toward them. Suddenly, they were driving through a natural cathedral, the slips in between the trees allowing slivers of light to punch through, patterned by the razor edges of needles on branches. The whole time, neither one of them said a thing, letting themselves be enraptured by these few minutes of beauty. Once they were out of the woods, the shadow of the mountain on their left cut off the light and plunged the valley into darkness. Having been so warm just seconds ago, it was suddenly so disconcerting to be left in cold.
He Doesn’t Know Why: She watched from the laundromat window as the same man walked down the street. He took the same route every day, never stopping in any of the stores along the strip, just walking, his eyes staring at a point on the horizon. And in the afternoon, when she’d returned to town to get her groceries, or visit friends in a coffee shop, he would go by again, this time going in the opposite direction. It was a daily routine, one that she found herself wondering about. But then, didn’t she have daily routines, too. What was it that seemed so odd and yet ideal about what he did? She wondered where he went each time he set out in the morning and who he was returning to when he headed back in the afternoon. It made her wonder about what she did. Did he ever wonder about the people around him and their daily routines? Or did he just exist in his own little plain each day, blocking out the world? Why did it bother her so much to know?
Next week on Inspiration Through Music, we’ll be looking at the wonderful band Kings of Convenience whom I found while writing my current book, “Night Time, Dotted Line.” Stay tuned!