25 April 2007

Emmylou Harris & Linda Ronstadt: "For A Dancer" (Post I)

On Jackson Browne's break-out album Late for the Sky, he wrote a song that makes me cry every time I listen to Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris sing it on Western Wall / The Tucson Sessions.

It's the story of my life:

For A Dancer

Late For The Sky (1974)

Keep a fire burning in your eye
Pay attention to the open sky
You never know what will be coming down
I don't remember losing track of you
You were always dancing in and out of view
I must've thought you'd always be around
Always keeping things real by playing the clown
Now you're nowhere to be found

I don't know what happens when people die
Can't seem to grasp it as hard as I try
It's like a song I can hear playing right in my ear
That I can't sing
I can't help listening
I can't help feeling stupid standing 'round
Crying as they eased you down
'Cause I know that you'd rather we were dancing
Dancing our sorrow away
(Right on Dancing)
No matter what Fate chooses to play
(There's nothing you can do about it anyway)

Just do the steps that you've been shown
By everyone you've ever known
Until the dance becomes your very own
No matter how close to yours
Another's steps have grown
In the end there is one dance you'll do alone

Keep a fire for the human race
Let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know what will be coming down
Perhaps a better world is drawing near
Just as easily it could all disappear
Along with whatever meaning you might have found
Don't let the uncertainty turn you around
(The world keeps turning around and around)
Go on and make a joyful sound

Into a dancer you have grown
From a seed somebody else has thrown
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own
And somewhere between the time you arrive
And the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive

That you'll never know


Jumpin' Jack said...

Hey Palo,

Just found your blog thanks to Whiteray, and I know I'll be coming back a lot.

I've been into Jackson for thirty years -- do you mind if I fix a misperception? It's not "crying is the easier down", which sounds cool enough, I admit... but it's a scene at the gravesite: "...feeling stupid standin' 'round, crying as they eased you down... ...rather you were dancin'..."

Great taste in music, man.

Paco Malo said...

Jumpin' Jack,

Thank you for correcting those lyrics. This is one of the occupational hazards of working with modern lyrics: before you know it, you have mapped your own ideas into what -- in this case Jackson Browne -- the artist wrote or performed.

But that's also the beauty of this poetry: my mis-hearing gave me one insight; you and Jackson corrected it and now I've got two.

And, as a bonus, your correction makes it an infinitely better poetic couplet.

Keep on Dancin'.


sexy said...