Sunday, April 25, 2010

"Minstrel of the Dawn" or "To the Morning"?

In reviewing my expansive CD collection, I've been coming across some old gems. Today I ripped Gord's Gold. It's imperative that you understand my musical history before you pass judgment on me for owning this album (my friends in high school ridiculed me, of course. I listened to old people music). I was raised on FM100. In Utah that's easy listening, light favorites, and love songs. (In Nashville, Lightning 100 is the cool-kid indie station. That's taken some getting used to.)

Anyway, my mom listened to stuff like Jackson Browne, Dan Fogelberg, Abba, the Carpenters, Kris Kristofferson, and stuff like that. So I listened to it. It's logical. And of course that branch of music is still pretty important to me.

So, if you want to make me die from a good heartache, wake me up Saturday morning with Dan Fogelberg's song "To the Morning," from his very first album Home Free. My mom used to do that when I was a kid. She'd play it really loud and it would pull us all from our various beds. Sometimes she would have breakfast ready.

We lived on the foothills of the mountain, so it took forever for the sun to get over the mountains. We had a window facing east and I still remember my mom standing in that window, watching the sun come up, singing the words along with Dan Fogelberg. She was pretty amazing. Need I even say that I thought she was a goddess? 

What's fantastic about all this, now, is that occasionally Stoker tries to yank on my heartstrings by waking me on a Saturday or a Sunday with that song my mom used to play. But he forgets which song it was. So several times I've woken to Gordon Lightfoot's "The Minstrel of the Dawn." A song about a musician singing in a bar. It's probably autobiographical.

"Minstrel of the Dawn" is nice, if a little jiggish in parts.  It doesn't really hold a candle to the melody and power of "To the Morning" which is about the passage of time and the inevitability of love, separation, longing, and pain. 

It's a funny mistake--playing "Minstrel of the Dawn" when you meant to play "To the Morning."  It's become one of my favorite memories involving Stoker.  You can see how he'd mix up the songs.  They both have something about the morning in their titles.  And once you've hit play, you're kind of committed even if you realize your error because the volume is turned up really loud. 

Guess you had to be there.  And know the songs.  One thing is that I think Dan Fogelberg really meant his song to be one of the first things you hear in the morning so there's a stillness in the first notes--there's a long instrumental introduction before he begins singing.  Minstrel of the Dawn doesn't really have that reverent feeling to it. It starts out with words right away, like this, "The minstrel of the dawn is here to make you laugh and bend your ear..."  Quite the jolt first thing in the morning.  

For a comparison, Dan Fogelberg sings, "Watching the sun, watching it come up over the rooftops...."  He says it in a hushed kind of voice.  Pretty fabulous.  It's one of the better ways to start your day out.   

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