I have wanted to write about the people who owned our old farmhouse before, but I couldn’t realize the song, which more and more seemed to want to talk about some essence of their moving on, not their past.
Reaching into the past, I am able to salvage:
The dim farmhouse, morning radio on …
Black-blue meadow stalking every step the living make …
A whispered rush.
And that farmhouse, like an old brown photograph, suddenly fills the senses.
As a writer of two or three-minute songs, I’m not interested in holding on to something for very long, or walking back into the past too deep. I’m in it for the permission to be transient.
It’s like this with singing, too. The whole idea of holding a note is strange to me. Singing isn’t about that. It’s about passage, about carrying the note out of you and forward.
When I chronicle the past I’m really just connecting dots, picking the beautiful things out of it and presenting a coherent arc in a neat, little song. Of course, life in the farmhouse was much noisier than that. The past is merely an alibi for the present.
The future, well … it’s messy, but it’s better to move on to it, better to leave what’s left behind any way except a slow way, leave the fastest way you can.
As with the breakups I sing about, the staying moved on … this is the hardest thing of all.