Saturday, August 25, 2007

inscrutable thoughts

The last time I saw Michelle Shocked in concert was 2002, not long before Banana was born if I remember correctly. The show was at Dave's in Fayetteville, which had both a good list of people who came through and an awful sound system.

I've seen Shocked five times over the years and only been disappointed once--in 1993 when she was making an ill-advised blend of folk and funk. The other shows were stellar, from the Arkansas Traveler tour when Uncle Tupelo and Taj Mahal opened for her and shared the stage to the Kind-Hearted Woman tour when she played with the Hothouse Flowers and played one of the best, most heart-felt sets I've ever heard. In 2002, she touring for Deep Natural/Dub Natural, an album that I lost for a few years during the first divorce. It disappeared into some other things once I got it back during the reconciliation. Consequently, I did not listen to it again until I came across it during the move in May.

Since then, I've listened to it repeatedly. The album may not be her best, at least for listeners who crave her early songs. She tends to noodle around on some of the tracks, the picaresque tracks are reminiscent of her earlier songs rather than breaking new ground. Still, there is something very compelling about the album. It's clear that she enjoyed making it--something about the airiness of many of the tracks.

In any case, one of the reasons I've been listening to it more lately is that I distinctly remember something she said as she told stories while playing the song "Joy" in that concert. Shocked started talking about all the ups and downs she's been through over the years; she segued into this: "I used to think I was a glass half-empty kind of person. Then I worked at becoming a glass half-full kind of person. Then I wondered if any of us stop to think how lucky we are to have the glass in the first place."

Those words resonate.


Oddly, while I was writing this, "Sleep Keeps Me Awake" (Captain Swing) shuffled onto my iTunes.