Monday, July 27, 2009

a soundtrack to one story

The soundtrack to this story is throw silver by mecca normal (the song is used without permission and produced by K records). For, many years now, this song has brought up so many feelings in my gut. It makes me long for something and at the same time it makes me feel buried in the beauty of the present that is made by all of the pieces of the past.

The soundtrack reverberates with the theme of generations—coming and then passing subtly and ever-so-real from this world into the place of dust and stone. There are practical things in my life that are making these thoughts so present and persistent, but also there is this propensity within me to care about that which has happened before I lived and to think and care deeply about that which is to come after I pass from the living.

Two months ago, K’s 96 year old grandmother was moved from her apartment to a nursing home. We have been going through her things and hauling old pictures, and letters, and keepsakes, and pottery, and the belongings of a woman who held onto objects as if they were oxygen to our house, so we too can hold onto these things as our own oxygen.

All of these brittle belongings are lifted and looked at and cared for by us and then I move to my gardens and weed and mulch and fork the soil. I am so much more at peace with my hands in the earth, but I also love to hold onto the remnants of human laughter caught in a photograph or an old note.

And maybe in this time—this very specific time of dying, cause, yes K’s 96 year old grandmother is beginning to pass (she is starving herself)—I am drawn even more to the land and the birds and blueberries.

These words from Bill McKibben’s essay entitled Enoughness (he wrote a whole book entitled Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age) fit in nicely to the throw silver soundtrack busting through my head and this post, "Nature schools us in sufficiency—its aesthetic and its economy demonstrate ‘enoughness’ at every turn. Time moves circularly through the natural world—next spring there will be wild flowers again…The testimony of the rest of creation is that there’s something to be said for fitting in. And because of that, the natural world offers us a way think about dying, the chief craziness for the only species that can anticipate its own demise. If one is a small part of something large, if that something goes on forever, and if it is full of beauty and meaning, then dying seems less shocking.”

In the gardens and the woods I see that all will continue. In the eyes of a granddaughter looking at her grandmother’s past in objects, I see that generations will go on. It is a story; an okay story—set to the sparse guitar and creaky voice of a two person band I have loved for too many years to count (this particular song is slower than much of their other rather loud and irritating-but in a good way-music).

Below is a little quicktime slideshow with photos of the community garden, K’s grandma and some of her old pictures, pics of food and backyardness and my art, and flowers, and lake Michigan, and some of k’s grandma’s furniture from the 1930s all with Mecca Normal’s Throw Silver in the background.


andrea said...

thanks natalie, that was really a treat on a lonely planet.
i had a soundtrack to this move i made recently; the only CD i had on me was Breathe owl Breathe, ghost glacier. I found comfort in it when i needed a little respite from the tumult.
rose still talks about "our friend natalie". you made quite an impression on her. thanks again for the lovely meal and pie!
hello to K., and hope all is well

Jean Smith said...


Jean of Mecca Normal here. In a strange way, I have never really known what that song is about.

My grandma went to a nursing home and we went through her things, as a family of four. This was years ago. My parents are old now; my mother is 89.

It is interesting, for me, to apply a song I wrote long ago (1993?) to situations looming. It is sometimes the way with songs, not to know what they are about entirely.

Strange that you would choose the song of ours that doesn't have specific meaning and give it one, a universal theme. Death, departing, leaving.

Or maybe not strange, but entirely appropriate -- for you, for me -- a song from the past that is about the future.

I would be happy if you'd use the correct spelling please and thank you.

Jean Smith
Mecca Normal

Jean Smith said...

I wanted to add that the song Throw Silver (K Records) is used without permission.

I'd appreciate this comment on the post.


the injector said...

Thank you so much for your words about your song and the sharing about your family and the reflection on my applied meaning. My apologies for not seeking permission to use it. I really do not know how to go about those kinds of things. I corrected the spelling.

Many years ago, probably around 1994, I came and saw you play in detroit. it was in a coffee house with a wood floor. we were young sitting on the floor looking up at you and david in awe. it was excellent. thank you for your creativity and for providing soundtracks and beauty to pieces of my life.
be well,