Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Phoebe Snow, "Take Your Children Home" (1974)


In which I disclose both methodology and a base sentimentality that motivates me: One reason I never made it as a journalist was lack of an ability to stay on top of things and fix on what interests a wide or general (or even niche and specific) audience, which is mostly a matter of keeping up, which probably just means I'm lazy or a crank or both. But there you go. Instead of swimming the zeitgeist, I have to make long lists way far in advance and plod through them in order. Phoebe Snow's lovely "Take Your Children Home" made it to the list because in 2009 it became the unofficial theme song of the death of my cat Floyd—paralyzed me with sadness when shuffle suddenly began insisting on it. Phoebe Snow's death came in 2011, the last grace note in her own sad story of children found, lost, taken home. And now my time to write about this song has come in the same week that my cat Esme has died—Floyd's sister, who outlived him by more than four years to make it to 16 years old. My constant companion, and best friend in many ways. "Death has no mercy," as the Dead put it, and I feel that acutely right now. But I feel grace at work too, putting this song in my way. It's more playful than I'm letting on, a shambolic meditation on carousing, but I hear (or project) such a world of wisdom in the title phrase, rooted in the here and now but facing the eternal. Leaning into the eternal, actually. "Take your children home, I am one." Death as a matter of going home. So even as this song makes me appallingly sad ("children" being so vulnerable by definition), it comforts me too. I like to think that Floyd and Esme are safe at home now, where I took them.

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