Friday, July 07, 2006

Sometimes music moves me to tears and laughter at the same time

I was having a hard day yesterday.

Part of this, perhaps a large part, had to do with the fact that, five years ago yesterday, July 6, 2001, my personal sense of living in a reasonable universe was irrevocably shattered by a senseless accident that stole a husband, a father, a doctor, a friend, a son, a brother, from a wife, a daughter, a community, countless friends, parents, a sister... I felt haunted, part of the day, by the voice of TTT, or more appropriately, by the absence of the voice of TTT. (Rest in peace, friend, rest in peace.)

I was sitting on the floor of my living room, trying to assemble the photographs for our dossier. (This is a collection of photos of our house and our family, that is sent to the Vietnamese government, with all of our paperwork, by our agency. I was troubled by the fact that, in the pictures, our deep eggplant purple dining room appeared to be some kind of Artist-Formerly-and-Currently-Known-As-Prince screaming electric purple den of iniquity. (Ultimately, I left the photo out of the dossier batch, lest the Vietnamese government think we are insane.) (No, there are no pictures of Prince in our dining room. There are framed prints of the Chinese characters for Peace and Happiness. It's just that the walls, if you looked at the photo, were a crazy color of purple that no sane person would have in their home. When, in reality, it's just a slightly eccentric deep eggplant color.)

Anyway, I was listening to Sirius radio, which we get with our satellite tv package, and a song came one, that I have only heard once before, several months ago, and attempts to find the song later, were fruitless. However, THIS time, I lunged for paper and pencil to write down the name of the artist and the song, so that I would be able to find it again.

The artist's name was Richard Shindell, and the song was called Are You Happy Now. Something about the quality of this man's voice made me want to listen to it again and again. The song was about a break-up that occurs on Halloween, and while the lyrics, on paper, are quite sad, in performance, they are merely melancholy, at times almost comical.*

Anyway, this led me to search, this morning, for "Richard Shindell" on the internet, and led me to his website, it also led me to an album by another artist, on which Shindell performs, called "The Red Thread". (The Red Thread is an allegory for adopting parents - based on a Chinese idea that there is an invisible red thread that connects people who are destined to meet. So, of course I had to investigate the album further.) As it turns out, the album is by a woman named Lucy Kaplansky, and the song is a reference to the adoption of her daughter, Molly, from China. I'm not entirely sure what to make of her lyrics about the adoption, but, I'm interested enough to request the album from the library. (Sadly, the library doesn't have any of Shindell's album, but, I was so entranced by his voice that I decided to order it from Amazon.)

I was just touched by the fact that, sitting and missing a friend who loved music, and sitting and listening to a song I found so intriguing, I was led, ultimately, to an album with a song about International Adoption.

I'm not entirely sure where I'm going with this. Feeling hopeful, and yet sad and musically inspired at the same time,


* Because I loved the song so much, here are the lyrics:

Are You Happy Now by Richard Shindell

You took the toaster when you went
You never paid your half the rent
You took the spices from the rack
But you don't have to put them back
Cause in your haste on Halloween
You left your camera on the bed
Where we played roles in black and white
You left a roll of black and white
I set the timer and thought of you
And put the lense up to my head
I took a photograph for you
What comes out gray is really red
Are you happy now?
I smashed your pumpkin on the floor
The candle flickered at my feet
As goblins flew across the room
The children peered into the room
A cowboy shivered on the porch
As Cinderella checked her watch
A hobo waited in the street
An angel whispered, trick-or-treat
But what was I supposed to do
But to sit there in the dark?
I was amazed to think that you
Could take the candy with you too (I especially love that line - LM)
Are you happy now?
I've sat all night and now it's dawn
And I cannot believe my eyes
There's garbage strewn across the lawn
Where we once stared up at the sky
And streams of paper fill the tree
That hovered over you and me
Shaving cream covers the car
That we picked up in Baltimore
Though I know it's hard to tell
I hope that what's-his-name treats you well
I still maintain that he's a bum
But it's your money - have some fun
And are you happy now?
You always asked why I had not
Written you a verse or two
Since that's the one thing I regret
I dedicate this one to you
Are you happy now?
Are you?


Blogger c h e l said...


Friday, July 07, 2006 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger steve said...

Yes, this is a great song...i really like what he does with the Halloween Characters... 'Cinderella checked her watch" 'Angel whispers" Hobo on the Street" ...genius!!
I like "Next Best Western" as well.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006 10:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See him in concert if you can. It's a powerful experience.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007 10:58:00 PM  

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