Music Uncategorized

Shoveling Snow with Lori McKenna

Why won't anyone help me shovel?

For the most part I do not know my neighbors. Renters come and go and no one really makes an effort to be neighborly, including myself. The one time that this changes is during a snow storm as neighbors flaunt their snow-blowers to help with sidewalks in a harmonious “Sears’ Snow Day Parade”.  I hear my neighbors grunt and grown as their parents make them shovel their own driveway.  Our mutual displeasure bonds us for a few quick moments each year even if my agony is faked and exaggerated.  I like shoveling, but last week’s snow storm was a bit too much. As a kid I remember watching plows pass my house as I shoveled snow. As I approached the unforgiving segment where the driveway meets the street I’d stop shoveling and make a tired face at the plow driver. It would take me hours to finish shoveling the driveway while a plow could do the job in minutes. If the plow driver saw that I was tired maybe he’d stop and finish the job for me out of kindness. I understood then why they didn’t stop, but I find myself having the same childish thoughts and actions as plows pass my driveway today.

Boston Snow Storm at Midnight
Midnight in Medford replaced Midnight In Montgomery

The dangerous part of shoveling for me is that it allows my mind to completely wander unescorted.  To compensate for this I always pack an ipod in my jacket pocket and a winter hat which adds extra security for the otherwise useless earbuds.  Last week my first music-of-choice was the Finnish Folk-Metal band Korpiklaani.  I like to think that my Finnish ancestors listened to this music as they shoveled their glacier-covered driveways to make a pathway to their smoke saunas.   It was angry, loud and heavy; the snow was just heavy.  After many hours of Korpiklaani I put on the new Lori McKenna album.  At this point I was just plain tired.  Our trip to Austin, Texas was canceled and the first days of the year’s final vacation was foreshadowing boredom and potential back pain.  Ribs and country music would be replaced with crib shopping and trips to the mall.  I was emotional, and so was the new Lori McKenna’s album.

Boston Snow Storm
The Day Job

While I love so many artists and styles of music there are certain songs, or usually specific parts of songs, that go the extra mile for me.  I can only describe it as an internal bubble that escapes from within me to simulate floating at a certain point of a song.  It must happen organically so I can’t simply fast-forward to that point in a song for a quick, artificial high.  The special moment doesn’t repeat within a song and it’s a feeling of near achievement to make it to this lyric regardless of how much time was actually invested.   For this reason it’s more common in progressive epics and musicals, though it can certainly happen in other genres as well.  It doesn’t happen at first listen either and may take nearly a dozen listens for the bubble feeling which only adds to the feeling of achievement.   I’ve included some passages that stand out to me and produce this bubble feeling:

  • Glass Hammer “Behind the Great Beyond” @ 12:45 with the lyric “telling you if you will not hear, will not see, Will no choose which way to go”
  • GenesisSupper’s Ready” @ 22:05 with the lyric “Has returned to lead His children home, To take them to the new Jerusalem.
  • The Musical RentWhat You Own” @ 2:46 with the lyric “For once I didn’t disengage“.
  • Steve Earle “Another Town” @ 1:42 with the lyric “I’m gonna spread it a-round
  • Dream TheaterFinally Free” @ 7:12 with the lyric “We’ll meet again my friend someday soon
  • Josh RitterThe Temptation of Adam” @ 3:47 “So I think about the big one, W W I I I
  • Jake Armerding “The Coastline” @ 3:32 with the lyric “…and swear to love you ever more

Lori McKenna’s song “All I Ever Do” in its entirety (though 2:08 especially) seemed to have that affect on me that day, though the conditions may never be right for it to happen again.  It breaks so many of the rules I listed above that it may seem like I just listed parts of songs I like for pure hipness sake.  I promise you the feelings are comparable.  The complete lyrics of the Lori McKenna song are pasted below and don’t necessarily all fit the day’s scene.  To start, the weather man predicted a sunny day in the song, and I certainly don’t pray.  But I do work all the time, I don’t know my neighbors, I expect to sell my guitars for Fisher Price clutter and am overambitious (or stubborn) enough to think I have a love that never fades.

All I Ever Do

Natalie Hemby / Lori McKenna

I turn the lights on in the hallway
Walk down the stairs without a bit of grace
TVs on and the weather man says
It’s just another sunny day
Open the curtains in the bay window
Look at the neighbors we don’t get to know
All the cars are in the turning lane
And everybody waves

All I ever do is work
All I ever do is pray
But I do know that I have for you
A love that never fades
And it’s ok
If it’s all I ever do

You and I were gonna leave our little town
Find a bigger city go and settle down
And finally have the chance to see our dreams
Come springing into life
You sold your guitar when the baby came
We gave her Joni as her middle name
And cluttered up the house with fisher price
Never sleeping through the night

All I ever do is work
All I ever do is pray
But I do know that I have for you
A love that never fades
And it’s ok
If it’s all I ever do
You finally pull into the drive way
We’re both exhausted from a long day
You wrap your arms around me with a kiss
You look at me and say

All we ever do is work
All we ever do is pray
But I do know that I have for you
A love that never fades
And it’s ok
If it’s all I ever do
I turn the lights off in the hallway

Chesterfield Gorge Road

1 comment

  1. You won’t have to sell your guitars!

    I get that same feeling from certain songs and it does happen with specific lyrics meshed with the music for a “tingly” happy feeling. I think it is why people claim that music has healing powers. It is probably why religions use music to evoke the spiritual state.

    I also stop at the top of our driveway and watch the snowplows go by with a sad face. However, I did have, back in my younger, prettier days, a truck stop and plow the big bank for me for just a smile and a wave.


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