Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Live: The Only Living Boy In New York

Shawn Colvin: The Only Living Boy In New York

[see Shawn on tour]
[purchase Shawn's "official" live albums Cover Girl and Live]

This Simon and Garfunkel cover, recorded at a Philadelphia concert in August of 2001 just a month before the world changed irrevocably in the wake of 9/11, has long been one of my favorite coversongs, hands down. Some of that is the performance - it's hard not to hear the hope and despair, the loneliness and love in this song come together perfectly in Shawn Colvin's sweet, soaring vocals. But some of it is the context, the pure coincidental combination of time and space, my favorite folksinger in the prime of her pre-pop career, the innocence we all felt just before the skies came crumbling down: the plane in the first line, the lonely city of the lyrics, the sentiment of saying that we're all gone half of the time, and we don't know where, but here I am, alive and grounded...

For me, it's personal. I had a friend of sorts on the second plane to hit the World Trade Centers on 9/11 - a fact I only discovered after I had spent the morning watching his soaring coffin smash into an office building over and over and over again on TV, without knowing it was him in that metal and glass. Like so many coworkers, he was one of those friends that was always on the verge of becoming closer, except life kept getting in the way - in fact, we were due to head out for a drink the week afterwards, our first true outing outside of work, but to be honest, we had cancelled a couple of dates in the months before, and there's good chance we might not have made it then, either.

Music hits us funny, sometimes; I have no idea how all this stuff got tangled up in this song, this performance, this moment for me in the first place. But I can say that listening to this song - any version or performance, really, but this one especially - hurts, now. And I'm sorry, in a way, though we need sad songs as much as we need happy ones, perhaps more.

But it will always and forever be my best way of remembering my almost-friend, of thinking about the worlds that could have been. I will forever hear it in my head when I see the towers fall, in photos and on video. And since the world will never forget, I will never forget my friend, either, I guess.

And for that, I offer it back to the world. With thanks for the time we have, though it is never as much as we hope it will be.

We miss you, Chris.

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