Your song

Ever since I can remember, my favorite song has inexplicably been Sweet Home Alabama. I’m not a southern girl. I’ve never been to Alabama. Nevertheless, I used to sing this song at the top of my lungs when it came on the radio (back when a. it played on the radio and b. when we listened to the radio and not our Spotify playlists on the auxiliary channel). It was my ringtone for several years. I used to wish to have it played over quality speakers with good bass as people walked away from the dedication of my grave (I could never decide if it should be played before or after Amazing Grace, live on the bagpipes).

Suddenly I feel the need to find a new song. I don’t actually know all the lyrics to Sweet Home Alabama. And apparently its racist overtones are debatable. Well, what’s really debatable is whether or not the racist overtones are intentional or unintentional.

But as soon as I read it has become an anthem to white supremacists and is often played with the Confederate flag in the background, I’m a little sick to my stomach.

I don’t really have any idea what my new song should be, but here (here is also where I break the rules by not writing nonstop), at the very least, are a few lines of a few songs to which I also don’t know all the lyrics, but which have particularly resonated with me over the past few years. Primarily from Bastille:

Pompeii (on the right–or perhaps wrong–day, this one brings tears to my eyes)
I was left to my own devices
Many days fell away with nothing to show
And the walls kept tumbling down
In the city that we love
Grey clouds roll over the hills
Bringing darkness from above
But if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
Nothing changed at all?
And if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
You’ve been here before?
How am I gonna be an optimist about this?
How am I gonna be an optimist about this?

The eternal optimist in me often finds myself asking “How am I gonna be an optimist about this?”

The Silence
It is not enough to be dumbstruck
Can you fill this silence?

I often hear this as “Can you feel this silence?” as well AS “Can you fill this silence?” It’s particular timely to me as I watch world events and believe it is not enough to be dumbstruck. I feel a call to find our voices and use our words to speak up and speak out.

Truth is, I feel about song lyrics much the same I feel about literature and art. Beyond what the artist intended and what meaning critics assign to it, the beauty and significance lies in the effect it has on the listener, or reader, or viewer.

Whatever it stirs within my heart. Whatever it causes me to see differently or more clearly. However it changes my life for the better. That is its true power.

Last night as I was falling asleep, this is the song that stirred up memories from my childhood. How my mom loved Simon & Garfunkel. How she passed that love on to me and to my sister. And how such a discovery and appreciation for something may get pushed back to the recesses of your mind as time goes on and life becomes full and complicated, but it never truly fades.

[Day 81 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]