Musical Monday: Dancing Barefoot by Patti Smith

It had to be this song. Gavin found in Patti a muse, gazed daily at the postcard of her on his desk, a NYC Rimbaud, a true artist, a puzzle his own age. And Patti was mine, too, legend said she was at the root of the punk rock I loved even if she was a damn poet and easy to mock, Gilda Radner singing “Gimme Mick,” as she pulled out a hairbrush to work on her armpits.

Parody aside, we both could have been her. Beautiful, sexually ambiguous, her own woman.

Dancing Barefoot is a love song that’s not afraid of death. At its climax she reads:

the plot of our life sweats in the dark like a face
the mystery of childbirth, of childhood itself
grave visitations
what is it that calls to us?
why must we pray screaming?
why must not death be redefined?
we shut our eyes we stretch out our arms
and whirl on a pane of glass
an afixiation a fix on anything the line of life the limb of a tree
the hands of he and the promise that she is blessed among women.

It just had to be this song: perfect. A eulogist, the best man at our wedding, and his wife suggested it to me when I was coming up blank.
We played it as the recessional at Gavin’s memorial service, a hot day 3 weeks after his death.
First the minister strode up the aisle, then me, nearly running, as the service thank God was finally over.
(I know. The service was actually short. We cut off the testimonials. But I really wanted to get out of there.)
Crying just outside the sanctuary, a hug from one of my oldest friends, and my wonderful minister’s warm arms and iridescent green robes.

For months after Gavin’s death I played Dancing Barefoot over and over again, part of a “weepers” playlist, as the start of my structured nap/alone time, when I could get it.

This celebration of life, cry of passion, meditation on big stuff will always be part of my mourning.

Thank you, Patti. You'd become part of him and his art, he loved you, and you helped me sing him out.

* * * Comments * * *


Suddenwidow said...

Love this post, Supa. You've got me thinking about the music that at first I listened to constantly, to help keep him alive, even though he wasn't. And then I couldn't listen to it at all, because it made me so overwhelmingly sad. Now I only listen to music that was released after his death. It seems safer and less emotional. But I'm going to go back to the old stuff, the stuff he loved and choose some of his classics so I can sing him out, too. Thank you for the healing idea. It feels like time to get back to the music that he loved so much so I can let part of him go, instead of keeping him trapped inside my iPod :)

Hugs, Debbie

Widow in the Middle said...

"I'm Still Alive" by Pearl Jam became my mantra after my husband's death. "If Everyone Cared" by Nickleback was important to me during my divorce. They are my phone ring tones. My husband and I mostly listened to classical music. After his death, I started to listen to what my sons liked. And they are the reason I became a fan of Pearl Jam and Nickleback. In a roundabout way, they provided a new outlet for me to work through my grief. My husband didn't like current music too much. But I think he would be happy that the boys and I have shared music as we have - and it has helped all of us the past years.

My sons were in a garage band a few years back. My oldest wrote all the lyrics and composed most of the music. Their "#1" hit was a song called "Hey, Dad" about a son talking to his deceased father. Everyone usually cried when they heard it - I did everytime.

Supa Dupa Fresh said...

Debbie and WITM,

What GREAT stories you two share about new music for new times. It's a sign of health, I think, to be able to hear things that are different, even if the old stuff brings back so many memories, as it must. Still, I kept a lot of silence around me in grief, when I could stand music, new or old, it was a sign of more strength and resilience and willingness to feel things.

But music is so powerful: how did I ever think I could live without it?

Thanks for sharing!




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