"Cry Like an Angel"
S. Colvin - J. Leventhal
The streets of my town are not
what they were
They are haloed in anger, bitter
And it's not so you'd notice but
it's a sinister thing
Like the wheels of ambition at
So I went out walking on the
streets of the dead
With a chip on my shoulder
And a voice in my head
It said you have been brought here
Though you don't know what for
Well the mystery train is coming
right to your door
And I hear you calling, you
don't have to call so loud
I see you falling and you don't
have to walk so proud
You can run all night but we
can take you where
You can cry like an angel
I don’t have the time or really the inclination to belabor the reasons I am now dreading spending time on Martha’s Vineyard this weekend with my family, but suffice it to say, yesterday was rough. I know I’m not “supposed to care what other people think of me,” but yes, I’m weak, I do. And to know that I am always going to be a giant failure in the eyes of some family members no matter what I do is painful, especially when it’s screamed into the phone at me. I get it – I’m fat, unmarried, babyless law school dropout. Trust me, I know ALL of those things and the only one I don’t give a shit about is the marriage thing. Not my deal. But the rest – and lest you think I’m exaggerating, she didn’t use those exact words but pretty much said all those things to me last year – I soooo get it. Beyond get it. I live that every day and just make my peace with doing things one day at a time .With acknowledging when I fuck up and trying the best I can. But do I want to hear people asking about my relationship status? My apartment? My fill in the thing I’m failing at now? Or why I can’t take a day off (but I could if I really wanted to)? Not on your life. But I will, in part cause it’s horrendously hot and muggy in New York, and because I want the next two weekends for me. They are mine and I’ve earned them.
My grandmother is an amazing person. I’m the first to tell anyone that. She’s 86 but you’d never know it. She saw the Beatles in concert. She dyed my hair purple. She is wonderful and loving and awesome, and yet, I just can’t handle the toxic pressure she and other people in my family put on me. I get it – I’m a horrible person for not spending my summer on Martha’s Vineyard. So fuck it – I’m a horrible person. End of story. Yesterday I let that totally get in my way and I have way too much to do to let the guilt of all that ruin me. I will do what I can. It’s the Fair this weekend, an event I always looked forward to as a kid – ferris wheel, rides, gross but fun food, and my little cousin will be there. If I could do 15 hours in Minneapolis, I can do 24 hours on Martha’s Vineyard.
I am wondering, though, if the Martha's Vineyard Gazette needs a copy editor - from their website yesterday:
I put the first video, Shawn Colvin singing "Cry Like an Angel," because that lyric in my subject line is what I first thought of when dealing with all this family bullshit.
I will never forget listening to this complication CD, I think it was Safe & Sound. I think it was 1998. There was this breathless, wispy voice singing this song, “Polaroids.” I didn’t now who she was, what the song was about, anything, but that song changed my life. Not the course of it, perhaps, but I must’ve listened to Mary Lou Lord sing “Polaroids” hundreds of times then launched a full-scale investigation into who this woman was. I learned a lot. I learned she loves broccoli. I learned about Kill Rock Stars. I learned about Kurt Cobain. I learned about Lester Bangs. I learned about being an artist, about taking the beauty you admire in one artist, a pure admiration, and creating art out of it.
Hearing that first song, when I was stuck in the least artistic environment possible, touched something in me and I never want to forget that. Because I wouldn’t know Shawn Colvin or Elliott Smith or so many other artists if it weren’t for Mary Lou. I still don’t totally know what “Polaroids” means, but I don’t have to, because I could still listen to it forever. And that's what I'm gonna try to think about rather than letting my family's obnoxiousness spill into my head and take it over.
And one last quote from the brilliant Ms. Colvin: "May we all find salvation/In professions that heal." I remember Mary Lou quoted that in her liner notes and I also think about it quite often.