Friday, March 06, 2009

"Closer to Fine:" Living in the Questions with the Indigo Girls


There's more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine
- Indigo Girls

***
I lead a charmed life. This, I do believe.

Yesterday at this time, I was taking my seat in the Cities 97 Radio Station Studio C to hear a live recording of the Indigo Girls , as they prepare to release their latest CD, "Posieden and the Bitter Bug." For those of you who don't know these two rocking female singer/ songwriters, I encourage you to seek them out. For those who do, I imagine you'll understand my complete and utter joy at being invited to this event.

Goodness! What is it to be able to hear live music? What is to hear live music that you love? What is it to hear live music that has somehow changed your life? Transformed your perception, gave you pause and inspired you to consider something anew? Pierced your heart and made you feel less alone in the world? Yes! How often do we get to pay homage to the sources of inspiration in our life?

My longtime Phillipian friend and volunteer buddy, John Michaels, invited me to this event. Many of you may know John as the radio personality and traffic reporter at KTCZ Cities 97 (as well as several other stations). John rocks. He's funny. He has a great disposition. And John knows how to call out traffic conditions for the greater Twin Cities area, thereby increasing the capacity for people to move from one location to the next - with a little more ease, information, and peace of mind.

On this day, John Michaels helped me in my own sort of daily, blessed journey through relationship, work, service, as I navigated oodles of plaguing questions - all in graced time, with such powerful musical artists singing live before me, and the
loving, funny company beside me.

I'm trying to tell you something about my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
And the best thing you've ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously
Its only life after all
Yeah

I first heard the Indigo Girls with Jill Mayberger. Road tripping between Omaha and Denver to see my sister, Stephanie, in college, Jill introduced me to this raw acoustic female duo. When she put in the tape cassette of their 1989 self-titled release, "Indigo Girls," I think my life sort of changed. I know something in me shifted sideways at least. "Closer to Fine" played as the first song on the album, and I knew almost immediately that Emily and Amy were two women I had to be connected to, related to, on at least some level.

Well darkness has a hunger thats insatiable
And lightness has a call that's hard to hear
I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it
I'm crawling on your shores

Who talks about the darkness? Who talks about light? How do we navigate the fear? How do we navigate any of this blasted life with all of its questions? What does it mean to wrap fear around you like a blanket? What does it mean to crawl on someone's shores? Whew. When I heard these lyrics of the Indigo Girls for the first time, I am certain I wept with their resonance. On Thursday, in Studio C, in the company of 40 other folks, I wept again.

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
Theres more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
(the less I seek my source)
The closer I am to fine
The closer I am to fine

Before I left for Cities 97 on Thursday, I was having a lovely lunch at my church, St. Phillips, where I volunteer. Excited about going to see these women perform live, I was raving to Betty Lou and Carol and Dale and Fr. Jules about their music. How does one really explain the Indigo Girls? How does one connect their faith community with their social arts community?

And I went to see the doctor of philosophy
With a poster of rasputin and a beard down to his knee
He never did marry or see a b-grade movie
He graded my performance, he said he could see through me
I spent four years prostrate to the higher mind
Got my paper and I was free

I tried singing this song, "Closer to Fine." I tried to recall the lyrics and their potency and describe this magic of their vocal harmonies.
I tried to find properly labeled recordings of the Indigo Girls on my laptop in my itunes folder. I couldn't.

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
Theres more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
The less I seek my source for some definitive
(the less I seek my source)
The closer I am to fine
The closer I am to fine

Instead, I found myself rambling about doctors and philosophers and priests and lesbians and gay people and nuns and what it means to ask so many questions and seek answers. I tried to draw a connection between Jesus and Justice and Emily and Amy and our Catholic faith community and myself. I sighed. I smiled. I tried to communicate in words what seems the ineffable.

I stopped by the bar at 3 a.m.
To seek solace in a bottle or possibly a friend
And I woke up with a headache like my head against a board
Twice as cloudy as I'd been the night before
And I went in seeking clarity.

I sent my church colleagues a link to this song, "Closer to Fine" and then I headed out to the studio. There, before the authors of this potent song; there, before the raw, real, resonant lyrics being performed by these two lovely women, I celebrated. I swirled in my life questions, in my uncertainty, in my inabilities to fully articulate things, and I sang along.

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
Yeah we go to the doctor, we go to the mountains
We look to the children, we drink from the fountains
Yeah we go to the bible, we go through the workout
We read up on revival and we stand up for the lookout
Theres more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
The less I seek my source for some definitive
(the less I seek my source)
The closer I am to fine
The closer I am to fine
The closer I am to fine

I do feel closer to fine with such work and words and wonder in the world.

5 comments:

David Mann said...

Well darkness has a hunger thats insatiable
And lightness has a call that's hard to hear


One of the best lines ever written.



David Mann
www.WordtoAction.com

Anonymous said...

awesome :-)

Margaret said...

Hi Melissa,

I LOVE the Indigo Girls! I spent several days once traveling with them and Winona LaDuke around the White Earth reservation, then went horseback riding where the Mississippi River begins. They worked that experience (or at least the part about being able to walk across that beginning) into a song.

Love to turn up the CD, have the top down, and go zipping along the highways!!

Margaret

Luke said...

Hey there! We were at this show too! It was so so great to hear some new stuff and I'm so glad that you got to hear Closer To Fine live in such an intimate space. And to Margaret above, I used to live up at White Earth, working with Winona, and I still work for Honor the Earth. Be well, QueenMab! And enjoy the new album!

Luke

Ellen said...

Indigo Girls! The best.!....makes me think of patio club dancing at Sarah's, Sarah breaking her toe.....summertime, many ago. We are all 'indigo' girls.....................makes me think of 'Galileo' "How long till my soul gets it right/can any human reach that kind of light........king of night vision/king of insight".................