Sunday, February 18, 2007

Love is a Tanglewood Tree

I can't put my little Valentine series to bed without a song from what is perhaps my favorite musical couple. Now separated by death, they still touch the world with their songs, and she continues on in her path in the retelling of songs and rediscovery of herself without her life and musical partner.

The work of Tracy Grammer and Dave Carter grabbed me about five years ago -- when my own mind was starting to turn back to music and to the condition of my life -- and hasn't ever let go. I was late in discovering them, just a bit too late. A friend had shared with me the story of Dave Carter's untimely death following an afternoon run, just before the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. Suddenly the world was without this voice with so many songs unwritten and unsung. And Tracy Grammer was without the gentle soldier of her soul.

Tracy is continuing on in her work, sharing her own interpretations of his songs, other songs, and her own songs. And she also bears his legacy proudly. Dave Carter was a troubadour in every sense of the word, an American balladeer folk hero in the making, a poet, a prophet, a voice unlike any other.

I love the songs of David Carter, who chose Tracy to be their voice. I love listening to them together. I hope someday I can raise my voice alongside a musical partner in some of these songs.

Their songs about love were never simple or uncomplicated. Like life, real human love
can be complicated. It's not the low-hanging fruit, but the more ripe and full delicacy up six or seven limbs and beyond a few spiny thorns that may extend and retract without warning.
Tanglewood Tree is the title track from their second release. It speaks to the need for authenticity in love, not the fluffy pink stuff of the Hallmark holiday, but the rich fertile fecund stuff out of which grows our better nature. This clip gives you a good long taste beginning at the bridge, and illustrates how the last verse goes with the double-lyric.
May you find yourself caught in the sweet tanglewood tree of things not simple, but real.
love is a tanglewood tree in a bower of green
in a forest at dawn
fair while the mockingbird sings, but she soon lifts her wings
and the music is gone
young lovers in the tall grass with their hearts open wide
when the red summer poppies bloom
but love is a trackless domain and the rumor of rain in the late afternoon
love is an old root that creeps through the meadows of sleep
when the long shadows cast
thin as a vagrant young vine, it encircles and twines
and it holds the heart fast
catches dreamers in the wildwood with the stars in their eyes
and the moon in their tousled hair
but love is a light in the sky, and an unspoken lie
and a half-whispered prayer
i'm walkin' down a bone-dry river but the cool mirage runs true
i'm bankin' on the fables of the far, far better things we do
i'm livin' for the day of reck'nin countin' down the hours
i yearn away, i burn away, i turn away the fairest flower of love, 'cause darlin . . .
love is a garden of thorns, and a crow in the corn
and the brake growing wild
cold when the summer is spent in the jade heart's lament
for the faith of a child
my body has a number and my face has a name
and each day looks the same to me
but love is a voice on the wind, and the wages of sin
and a tanglewood tree
(Sung alongside the last verse, above)
love's garden of thorns, how it grows
black crow in the corn hummin' low
brake nettle so pretty and wild
and thistles surround the edge of the
dim dark hour as the sun moves away
lamenting a lost summer day
who nurtures the faith of a child
when nothing remains to cover her eyes?
my body has a number, maybe my face has a name
each hour like each hour before
this longing is a voice on the wind
she cultivates the wages of sin
in a tanglewood tree


At February 19, 2007 9:39 AM, Blogger Blueberry said...

Thanks for the tip and links on this music, and for the story that goes with it. Always keeping my ears open.

At February 19, 2007 6:36 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hey blueberry, happy to share, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.


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