Friday, October 24, 2008

Music-Family Sandwich, Part 3

Finishing my posts about last weekend, now that we are about to start this weekend! It seems that much of the interesting things in my life occur on the weekends, ya know?

So, the last piece of the sandwich was attending the Dar Williams concert at the Aladdin Theater last Sunday night. We met our friends Dave and Christie (Dave being the director and esteemed leader of our band, and fellow music lover) for a wonderful Indian meal at Vindalho, a newish, modern-type Indian restaurant not too far from our old house in SE Portland. It was one of those restaurants that discourages family-friendly dining with its prices! :) Very tasty food, indeed--especially the pumpkin samosas and halibut curry. I also liked the naan, although Mike was not as crazy about it.

Then we went off to the Aladdin, a great concert venue, which has general admission seating. Christie and I went in to find seats while Mike and Dave parked. However, I happened to check my messages...my parents had been trying to reach us and we hadn't heard our cell phones. I have so much confidence in my parents' capabilities of taking care of our kids that I never fret much when they watch them...so I wasn't too worried. We had set up a somewhat complicated child care arrangement, because my parents had their book group in the afternoon, so we dropped the kids off with some friends, and Mom and Dad picked them up there. We had planned to leave our house key with Chris so that they could get into the house...but we forgot. So Mike drove back to our house before the concert started to hide the key in a boot on the front porch! The funny thing is that apparently my mom had a key with her all along, but didn't know for sure whether it was for our house!

The concert was great. Shawn Mullins opened for Dar, and although I thought I'd heard of him, I didn't really know who he was. He was phenomenal!!! His biggest hit is called "Rockabye," and I know I've heard it played on KINK several times. I was just blown away by his amazing guitar playing...especially coming from a self-professed lazy guitarist. I've already reserved several of his CDs at the library. Dar always has great opening acts--we've also discovered Anne Weiss, Toshi Reagon, and Girlyman via Dar. Shawn, like Dar, is a great storyteller, and he did a memorable rendition of "The House of the Rising Sun" that brought a standing ovation.

We have seen Dar just about every time she has come to Portland (since discovering her); she is extremely entertaining live, not just for her music but also for her wise banter. The last time she came 2-1/2 years ago I was pregnant with Nicholas, and Christie, another friend, and I went to see her perform with Shawn Colvin at the zoo. She did a disappointingly short set. Ever since she had her son a few years ago (see below), she has traveled much less frequently and has given shorter concerts. Can't say I blame her!

Dar is firmly liberal and progressive, although for the most part she stayed away from commenting about politics very much. However. She did make a note of having watched the video of Sarah Palin at her Wasilla church, being blessed by a Kenyan pastor who prayed that Palin would be protected from witches. Dar's commentary on that bizarre occurrence? She launched into her classic song about a young pagan woman and her partner who spend Christmas with her "Christ-loving uncle" and his family, "The Christians and the Pagans." (We sang "The Christians and the Pagans" on Friday night at the coffeehouse, so I was very happy she did it.) This song has the ability to bring tears to my eyes...especially this line: "Cause now when Christians sit with Pagans, only pumpkin pies are burning." I like Dar's dream and vision for the world, that we can all get along, live peacefully, and respect each other's different beliefs and ways of life.

Here are the words:

Amber called her uncle, said "We're up here for the holiday
Jane and I were having Solstice, now we need a place to stay"
And her Christ-loving uncle watched his wife hang Mary on a tree
He watched his son hang candy canes all made with red dye number three

He told his niece, "It's Christmas eve, I know our life is not your style"
She said, "Christmas is like Solstice, and we miss you and it's been awhile"
So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able
And just before the meal was served, hands were held and prayers were said
Sending hope for peace on earth to all their gods and goddesses

The food was great, the tree plugged in, the meal had gone without a hitch
Till Timmy turned to Amber and said, "Is it true that you're a witch?"
His mom jumped up and said, "The pies are burning," and she hit the kitchen
And it was Jane who spoke, she said, "It's true, your cousin's not a Christian"
"But we love trees, we love the snow, the friends we have, the world we share
And you find magic from your God, and we find magic everywhere"

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able
And where does magic come from, I think magic's in the learning
Cause now when Christians sit with Pagans only pumpkin pies are burning

When Amber tried to do the dishes, her aunt said, "Really, no, don't bother"
Amber's uncle saw how Amber looked like Tim and like her father
He thought about his brother, how they hadn't spoken in a year
He thought he'd call him up and say, "It's Christmas and your daughter's here"
He thought of fathers, sons and brothers, saw his own son tug his sleeve saying
"Can I be a Pagan?" Dad said, "We'll discuss it when they leave"

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able
Lighting trees in darkness, learning new ways from the old, and
Making sense of history and drawing warmth out of the cold

A clear and subtle message, drawing a stark contrast to how the McCain-Palinites have conducted their campaign.

I noted how different the crowds at Dar's concerts are compared to 5 to 7 years ago. At those concerts, when she began her feminist classic, "As Cool as I Am," young women would hit the dance floor and create their own folk, alternative mosh pit in the front of the stage. Now the crowds are much older and calmer. Sadly, we have all gotten older!

Dar was introducing her newest album, which I had bought in September so I knew most of the songs:

I didn't love her last album, "My Better Self," quite as much as some of her others, but I really like this new one. What I love about seeing Dar in concert is hearing the background to her sometimes-complicated-and-metaphorical songs. Otherwise you can appreciate them for their beauty, story, and musical craftswomanship, but cannot fully understand the power of the lyrics. For example, her new song "Buzzer" is about the Milgram experiments conducted at Yale in the 1960s and obedience to authority.

If you would like to learn more about Dar (one of my all-time favorite singer-songwriters!), check out this NPR interview with her a few months back. Thanks, Mike, for a great birthday present!

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