A few nights ago over dinner in a local restaurant, the song "When I Was a Boy" by Dar Williams came over the speakers. I started singing aloud, remembering the lyrics fondly and I took my girlfriend's hand and said, "can you listen to this song when we get home? It's really so good." She said, "sure".
We got home and I pulled out the old CDs and gave her the lyrics. She almost cried. "So good!" she said.
It is. It's so good.
I love music--mostly everything and anything--but my favorite artists are singer-songwriters who put poetry and music together to express what many of us feel but can't express. We all experience music to be therapeutic, cathartic and healing. Classical, R&B, hip-hop, pop, dance---heck, even country has its merits.
I went through a phase when I loved Dar, through and through. One of her songs, February, is forever etched in memories about my first love. Over the past 10 years, I have hardly listened to her but when I took out those liner notes and read those words again--I thought, man. How poignant for my life today!
Even if the acoustic guitar and Dar's lilting voice breaks aren't your jam, give it a listen. I posted the lyrics so you don't miss a word.
I won't forget when Peter Pan came to my house, took my hand I said I was a boy; I'm glad he didn't check. I learned to fly, I learned to fight I lived a whole life in one night We saved each other's lives out on the pirate's deck.
And I remember that night When I'm leaving a late night with some friends And I hear somebody tell me it's not safe, someone should help me I need to find a nice man to walk me home.
When I was a boy, I scared the pants off of my mom, Climbed what I could climb upon And I don't know how I survived, I guess I knew the tricks that all boys knew.
And you can walk me home, but I was a boy, too.
I was a kid that you would like, just a small boy on her bike Riding topless, yeah, I never cared who saw. My neighbor come outside to say, "Get your shirt," I said "No way, it's the last time I'm not breaking any law."
And now I'm in this clothing store, and the signs say less is more More that's tight means more to see, more for them, not more for me That can't help me climb a tree in ten seconds flat
When I was a boy, See that picture? That was me Grass-stained shirt and dusty knees And I know things have gotta change, They got pills to sell, they've got implants to put in, they've got implants to remove
But I am not forgetting...that I was a boy too
And like the woods where I would creep, it's a secret I can keep Except when I'm tired, 'cept when I'm being caught off guard And I've had a lonesome awful day, the conversation finds its way To catching fire-flies out in the backyard.
And so I tell the man I'm with about the other life I lived And I say, "Now you're top gun, I have lost and you have won" And he says, "Oh no, no, can't you see
When I was a girl, my mom and I we always talked And I picked flowers everywhere that I walked. And I could always cry, now even when I'm alone I seldom do And I have lost some kindness But I was a girl too. And you were just like me, and I was just like you"
I feel like anyone, hetero or LGBTQ, can relate to the simplicity (and complexity) of what she's conveying in the song---about how we all began the same as kids and then become victims of socialization and cultural norms.
Give things in your life some thought. When did you decide something had to go in order for life to be easier? Does that ease come with a price? Is there something in you or about you that the world needs to see and hear right now? Something that might be a surprise to some and a WELCOME surprise to MANY?
Oh, Dar. You progressive, incredible songstress, you. Kickin' butt and takin' names in 1995 with your vision of how things can/should be.