Friday, July 1, 2011

If I leave here tomorrow...would you still remember me?

Lost, 2011

I was eating a pumpkin muffin and listening to Freebird. The lyrics had me daydreaming and not giving the interview I was reading fair attention, so I closed the journal and tapped my fingers on the table, swayed to the music, and looked out the cafe window while drifting off into my memory. I like hearing this old song every once in a while and allowing it to carry me away. I'm familiar with two popular versions of the song. The version I like best is not the live version with play it pretty for Atlanta and how bout you? inserted into the original lyrics.

There are certain songs, novels, films, and paintings that do something that jolts me out of the lovely feeling of being lost in the work. It's something that abruptly shifts the mood. In Freebird I find myself lost in the live version until I hear the lyrics shift for the crowd. Maybe if I were there I'd feel differently, but from here, it just doesn't work for me. I'm not in Atlanta. I get transported to some cheesy stadium concert when I prefer being lost. I do get past the disruptions in this live version and I wouldn't turn it off it came on the radio. Perhaps it's because the song is so long. I have time to recover and get back into the music. Does this conflict with the point I'm making? Maybe, but making a clear point is overrated and often the sign of a narrow mind.

In certain novels and films I find myself thrown by the ending. A neatly tied up ending rarely works for me, especially when the story was anything but neat. I never like it, but clearly others do. To me, it feels strange and contrived, disjointed -- forced. I prefer more open endings, such as Sofia Coppola's Somewhere, Amy Sackville's The Still Point, and Per Petterson's Out Stealing Horses. You close the book or walk away from the screen and you are still under their spell.

Yesterday the shift (not quite a jolt) was good. I walked slowly through an exhibition of works collected by the Steins and was taken by a small Matisse painting. It was a landscape with cypress trees, a palette of mostly grey green and grey blue. In the lower right corner there was one subtle stroke of a salmon color. The stroke took me somewhere else. I left the painting and imagined the wet paint, the painter, his choices. But then I sunk back into the landscape and ended up drawn even deeper into the work, imagining him seeing that salmon color one day while standing there beside the cypress trees.


  1. don't let a few words ruin that song for you. i live in Atlanta and feel lost most of the time;-)

    love open endings too. you often do that in your posts and we are all under your spell.

  2. I too like unfinished is never perfectly sewn up... And the Matisse sounds wonderful.
    I hope you are enjoying your weekend, and the sun is shining. Best, Annie x

  3. I like the way you experience the Matisse, to be drawn in by the work viscerally (without the clutter of a docent's commentary).

  4. The details of your exhibition of works visit is really lovely. Getting lost in a painting is one of the best things.

  5. I agree with you in regard to movies with neat endings. We definitely avoid those...

    So you saw the Stein show...when I go (I better get there soon), I will think of you in front of the Matisse...the stroke of salmon color... :^)

  6. and indeed, those open-ended moments are the ones worth seeking. it's a good editor (writer/artist/musician) who allows ideas to linger on.

    i thought of you yesterday, reading cy twombly's obituary in the guardian, thought that you would know his work, thought it unendingly sad that my favourite painter has gone.

    your photo has a little something of his scribbles! lovely post, d.

  7. I can totally relate to your sentiments here, having felt the same many, many times.

  8. amazing how you described the feel of that painting...

  9. it's a rarity to find Freebird and Matisse in the same post! being in the South for so so many years, I've heard that song, sadly, so overplayed, over-covered, that it has been made almost cliche. it's nice that it has a better perception elsewhere!

    but I connect completely with your experience of the Matisse--beautifully written, this transport. the artist himself would have been pleased

  10. Thank you for bringing me along.

  11. Melissa, No no, it's not ruined, I just prefer the other version. Thank you.

    Annie, Yes, my view is bright and sunny today.

    Cha sen, Thank you. I grew quite tired of such commentary during graduate school.

    alexandria, I agree, especially in a quiet museum. My visit was crowded, but I still enjoyed myself.

    Janis, I believe you still have quite a bit of time. Enjoy.

    Lucy, I feel honored that you thought of me and noticed a hint of his scribbles in my photograph.

    hila, I am not at all surprised. I like your perspective.

    WSAKE, Thank you.

    nancy, Perhaps rare for a reason, but it is what I was thinking about. I want to revisit the exhibition. If only I could view it privately. What a dream it would be.

    Lecia, I enjoyed doing so.

    woolf, : )

  12. you leave me hanging every time...and hungry for more. that's why i keep coming back.

  13. the title of your post really "hit" me tonight as I had just updated the "quote of the month" on my blog, which is from the last Murakami books that I read.
    All these movies, songs & books where I remain under the spell for months or years... At first I was a bit afraid of the feeling, growing old I sort of enjoy it as slowly byilding a part of who I am, who I have become.
    Thank you for putting this into words so well.

  14. Amelia, So this is a good thing, right?

    Valerie, I like the spells, usually.

  15. "making a clear point is overrated and often the sign of a narrow mind" —so well said! What lovely writing and thoughts. I, too, loved Out Stealing Horses and its ambiguous yet satisfying ending. All of it, really. I may have to look into the other books you mentioned, we may have similar tastes. And I'll recommend Driftless by David Rhodes in exchange.

  16. Thank you, Sharon. I'll flip through Driftless during my next bookstore visit. Thanks for the recommendation.

  17. Yes, a very good thing... You are my secret hideaway, my safe haven, my mysterious door to something new, every time