“I wish I’d kissed you deeper…”
Nigerian singer-songwriter Asa (pronounced like “Asha”) was my musical surprise of 2013. A friend sent me one of her songs on Spotify (“The way I feel”) and while I was impressed by her unique vocal stylings and obvious talent, that was about it. Almost a year later, back in January of this year, I heard a few of her other songs and wanted to beat my head against a wall for not having plunged into the deep ocean of beauty that is her music. Songs like “Tinderbox” and “Glow” felt almost magically surreal and beautiful. Songs like “Jailer”, with an overt political message, showcased a rather attractive social consciousness. But “Baby gone” is Asa at her most emotionally transparent and vulnerable.
It is often difficult to take accountability for our own actions, especially in a love gone wrong, where our emotions are often still too raw to process the end of an era, let alone our hand in it. “Baby gone” highlights with such captivating sincerity that pride has no place in love.
“I belong with you. You belong with me. You’re my sweetheart.”
I saw the title of this song, “Ho Hey”, before I ever heard the original rendering by The Lumineers. I thought it’d be hokey and stupid, immature and childish. I was wrong, but not in the way that I’d expected. Upon listening, I realized that this song did capture a very childish approach to love, that being with the one you love is as easy as realizing that you belong together and making it happen. Just that easy. I feel in love with this version after hearing it on the television show “Nashville”, and hearing it sung by young girls only invigorated the sense of beauty and purity infused into this love song. Perhaps love isn’t complicated. Perhaps we just make it that way.
“You really shouldn’t be so afraid of yourself,” he said.
I’m trying not to be…
“You, me, sittin’ on top of the world…”
I think that the hallmark of all great love songs is how they do not highlight lust, passion, or any other would-be fleeting emotions. No, the truly great love songs, the ones that stir the soul, awaken dormant needs, and gently elevate feelings of tenderness and affection to the surface, like a digger panning for gold, do so by emphasizing the beginning or end of a journey to seek, to find, and to keep a companion. True love is baring your soul, and having another’s bared to you in return, to earn a steady, trusting companion. Love resides with the person who allows you to just sit and be still with them.
“…As I try to make my way to the ordinary world, I will learn to survive.”
The original version of this lyrical masterpiece, performed by Duran Duran, made such an impression on my 8-year-old self at first listen that I vowed in that moment that I would write, I would paint, I would sketch, I would do something, anything, to be able to move someone the way that I was moved, to make other loners like me feel with a few words and haunting melodies that they we are all alone, together. That we could find a place in this strange world, and maybe even earn a glimpse into a more ordinary world. This cover from Cary Brothers re-awakened the feeling that had grown numb over many years, re-igniting my zeal to subtly, beautifully, delicately set the world on fire.
Technologies have assisted even the most lonely, isolated, woefully alienated people to wrap themselves temporarily in the illusion that they belong, to showcase a happy, funny and free exterior. But when the computers and cell phones are turned off, who do you have? Who do any of us have, in those quiet moments when we need someone the most?
It is a terrible, hollow feeling, to feel that one has no place in this world, no niche carved out just for you. Bereft of family, close friends, concrete passions that one can rest in, count on, find solace with. The tumble in the wind as sails are lifted sans destination is as horrifying as it is exhilarating, never knowing where you’re going, how you’ll get there, and who will be there to greet you at the door. Because detachment also means that one has no anchor, no place to tie one’s heart and soul to. Instead, one must be content to drift along, in the hopes of peaceful, welcoming shores.