A twitter-bird just redirected my attention to one of my all-time favorite songs: “A Long December” by The Counting Crows.
I remember listening to the song in the year 2001, during my stay on the west coast of Australia. I was just-20 years old back then: joyfully alive, filled with a sense of excitement and hope for what was to come (my whole life) and at the same time I was very much in touch with feelings of sadness and loneliness.
I’m smiling right now, thinking of numbers and years. I was 20 when I first listened to the song, which is 20 years ago. And we just left the year 2020… isn’t that an omen or what? But sorry, I’m digressing… let’s get back to “A Long December”:
Adam Duritz’s words and voice convey a mixture of sad brokenness and hopeful persistence that speaks strongly to me, especially after the challenging year of 2020. This is encapsulated in the starting line of the song:
A long December and there’s reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
Later he recounts visiting a friend in hospital, who had had a car accident:
The smell of hospitals in winter
And the feeling that it’s all a lot of oysters, but no pearls
I can resonate with this melancholic, hospital hallway feeling while thinking back on last year – on the work and struggle (oysters) with little joyful rewards (pearls)…
And then, all of a sudden – unencumbered by the muddy dreariness of burden thoughts and teary heart – a light feather moment of beauty appears:
All at once you look across a crowded room
To see the way that light attaches to a girl
Ahh… Isn’t it wonderful, how even when we’re lost in memories – even in the midst of sadness – life’s unexpected beauty can jerk us awake?
Later Duritz recounts a late-night meeting (“sometime after two a.m.”) with a (girl-?)friend, where they “talked a little while about the year”…
I know these late-night talks, that take place out of time, in a strange in-between world. Free of the necessities and duties of the every day, these moments lend themselves to melancholy and contemplation, to unearthing undigested feeling-memories, in the (knowing?) hope, that after arriving at the bottom, we will reconnect with the soothing stillness of our heart once more.
I love how he captures this slowing down and talking quietly from the heart:
I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower,
Makes you talk a little lower about the things you could not show her
Ahh. Now I can feel sweet sadness: tingly heart and teary eyes. Mmm…
And… how are you?
What do you feel right now?
What comes up, while reading my words (and maybe listening to the song)?
May you find space and time to slow down, to share and remember with a friend: the beautiful and the painful of last year; to unearth what is still burdening you; to allow unfelt emotions to arise once more and then to flow and subside naturally.
May you breathe in and out and then dive into the deep end, into the gentle stillness of your lovely heart.
And may you have a gently soothing and wonderfully pearly new year!
P.S.: This article in American songwriter inspired me to write about “A Long December” myself.
P.P.S.: Back in Australia, when I told my actor-girlfriend about my love for the music of The Counting Crows’, she recounted her meeting Adam Duritz at a party. Apparently, he had hit on her and hadn’t left a particularly good impression.
But I don’t know Adam Duritz and frankly, I don’t care… He doesn’t have to be my friend. As long as he writes amazing songs, I’m all good!