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Location: Midwest, United States

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Austin City Limits

Everything is connected in some way, I guess.

I was driving home from a visit with my brother-in-law (a gem of a human being). The CD-player was spinning “What a Good Boy.” Without much forethought, I skipped over to Bruce Springsteen’s - “Human Touch.” I drove on while the song filled my head, over and over again. I decided that this tune, too, could stand as a signature song. It’s another facet of who/what I am.

And my visit with my brother was exactly the human touch I needed this day.

Much later that night…well…actually…early the next day, I was channel-surfing, bleary-eyed, when I came across the last quarter-hour of an Austin City Limits performance by Ray LaMantagne. Amazing Woman was the dear heart who introduced me to Ray LaMantagne. She understood me fairly well…(and not at all).

Oh...hold on...detour coming!

I love the Austin City Limits venue. I love the intimacy afforded the musician and audience by a smaller room. The Park West, here in Chicago, is a similar showcase. I have witnessed many magical performances there. It’s a pity these intimate, acoustically thrilling, heart-throbbing experiences are becoming ever more rare. Not enough money in it…but the soul suffers.

OK. Back on the main road.

Ray LaMantagne was on stage. He introduced a song he wrote when he was acutely missing people he loved (Townes Van Zandt, specifically). The song begins with a bit of slow, simple guitar-strumming. It is a gentle start to a wonderful song, beautifully sung in almost a whisper. I was mesmerized and transported. It captured another essential part of me. With the exception of just one verse, it was a song I wish I could have composed and sung myself. I was actually shaken by the intimacy and truth of it.

And then it came to me. Perhaps you’d like a portrait of me? Well, there it is…three songs. Play them in a row, play them in any order, it doesn’t matter. These three songs capture my essence. An aural portrait, if you will, more accurate and telling than any painting or photograph could be.

* * *

Unfortunately, after fruitlessly searching for the greater part of this morning, I discovered that the name of the song is “Train Song.” But, Ray has not otherwise recorded the song as yet! Here I am, eager to rush out and buy Ray’s current CD (he only has two), and I learn it doesn’t contain the one song…the only song…I needed to hear.

DOH! Long story short…I guess I just wasted a bit of your time.
I pointed to a portrait, but a good third of it is missing. Sorry about that. I have to believe he’ll record it eventually. It’s simply that good. I'll be waiting for it. I want that part of me back!

* * *

If you’ve never listened to Ray LaMantagne, you should. How can you not love a composer/singer who adds this quote to his liner notes?

"And you, liar, teller of tall
tales: you trample
all the Lord’s
underfoot, you murder, steal,
commit adultery, and afterward break
into tears, beat your breast,
take down your guitar and
turn the sin into
a song. Shrewd devil, you know
very well that God pardons singers no
matter what they do,
because he can simply
die for a song…" * * *
* * *
* * * (From The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kaztantzakis)


Blogger bct said...

Jon, Austin City Limits has been selling CDs and DVDs of some shows, so you might be able to get the song that way.
Also, a lot of the performers on Austin City Limits also stop by a local radio station, KGSR, to do a live set. KGSR sells compilation CDs of these performances (I believe they're on #14 now), through their website and in Austin stores, so it's possible "Train Song" might turn up there, too.

Mon Dec 11, 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Thanks, Bernice! I hadn't considered those options. Methinks a bit more Googling is in order.

Thanks again!

Mon Dec 11, 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

I actually saw that performance too, I wonder if we were watching at the same time?

You should stop by Eleanor's blog and join the extended microfinance discussion, it's getting good and thick.

Mon Dec 11, 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger soul_rebel said...

I have no idea why blogger used my first name, but I posted that! Strange.


Mon Dec 11, 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger soul_rebel said...

Not to say you can't call me by my first name, it was just a little baffling. I couldn't even access that mystery account's profile or delete the comment after. Silly internet.

Mon Dec 11, 05:50:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

That would have been around 4 AM your time.

I will visit Eleanor. I've been remiss in my reading.

Mon Dec 11, 07:12:00 PM  

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