Saturday, October 23, 2010

Famous Blue Raincoat

I have a Leonard Cohen song stuck in my head... actually a cover of it. For those of you who know Jennifer Warnes only as the chick who had the time of her life in that Dirty Dancing song, you are missing out. Check out her album Famous Blue Raincoat which includes covers of almost all of my favorite Cohen songs (just missing Suzanne).

Why this song? Because it is 2:39 a.m., and my alarm clock is set for 4:30 so I can get up and head (back) to the airport (again) for another work trip. The song begins with a classic line "It's four in the morning, the end of December, I'm writing you now just to see if you're better."

So, while it is only two in the morning at the end of October, I go back to this song. I am not a music fanatic by any stretch. I have a ton of stuff I love, but being that I am surrounded by friends who are musicians, I truly understand that my musical understanding and taste only scratches the surface. Songs aren't like books to me-- they don't move me-- with a few notable exceptions.

Famous Blue Raincoat is one of those exceptions, and in this moment, that song so perfectly represents my mood. I am listless, and tired, and thinking about the past.

The song is sort of a letter to music, where Lady #1 is writing to Unnamed Dude after he moved away to build his house "deep in the desert" following some alluded to tragic incident. Throughout the song, Lady #1 croons that "Jane came by with a lock of your hair. She said that you gave it to her. That night that you planned to go free."

And then, the penetrating question "did you ever go free?"

In so many ways, the song is about a group of people who's plans are all destroyed

This brings up a question I have been mulling over as of late after lots of conversations with lots of friends who are struggling to find a balance between the life they have and they life they want (which we all are). For us twenty-something people (and yes, I can still claim that for two more months!) sometimes the biggest battle is understanding that life you want looks like.

But still, Famous Blue Raincoat is a song about regret, and that is a trap I am trying to avoid tonight. This is what I am learning/have learned about life: it never looks like what you think it will. So many of us, and I feel like women in my age group in particular, have this image in our head of where you are "supposed to be" at twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five, etc. It is actually rather fragmented. We vacilate between Sex and the City and Leave it to Beaver.

The problem is, no one's life looks like that.

And that is A-OK! I always had this image of my first book being published while I lived in a loft in Greenwich Village and lived the Carrie Bradshaw flitting existence (but I TOTALLY end up with my Aiden because Mr. Big just sucks). But here I am living in my tiny little rowhouse in Baltimore, going to work every day, spending weekends on school.

But, dude, my life is pretty good, no? I am overcoming the loss of my mom, and that is a huge shadow over everything. It is, nonetheless, a shadow that will fade somewhat, and I will figure out how to incorporate what doesn't fade into who I am in some productive fashion. Otherwise, I have an amazing job, great friends, prospects and potential through the roof. And, other than being exhausted and always a bit too stressed and busy, I am typically a pretty happy, content person. For now.

So why the song about regret, about life failing you so miserably?

Because its now three in the morning the end of October. No good comes of me writing at this hour, and even less so when I share it with the world!

I get to come back on Monday. Max and Menna is at the printer, and I will have copies in my hot little hands in about 3 weeks.

I am actually rather hoping for a night at Joe Squared next week-- haven't had much time to hang out with my favorite bartender recently, and this week's specials look amazing. (I am also hungry at 3 a.m. and thinking with my stomach).

For now, I'm going to try for another hour and a half of sleep, and then go to the airport. Need to wrap up all of my work tomorrow before 9 p.m. Sunday is Paranormal State night.

I hope all of you are sleeping better than I am at this moment in time!


  1. I think we have very different interpretations of that song.

    For me that song, for whatever reason, was always this song that illustrated everything I was terrified of in turning 30. (Honestly, I have no idea why that song freaks me out as much as it does, but I wrote a blog post about it three years ago.) And now that I'm here, I'm still a little terrified.

    Regardless, I saw it as Leonard Cohen (since the "letter" is signed at the end, "sincerely l. cohen") writing to a "brother" of sorts -- he does use that word explicitly, but I never took it to mean it in the literal sense -- who ran off with his wife and that Jane was just a mutual friend (or possibly the ex of the addressee who settled for Cohen in the aftermath). Maybe I interpreted it too literally?

  2. See, Wade, my hang up with that is it doesn't address lily Marlene...