Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Two turtle doves and, really, two Indigo Girls

On this glorious, sunny Tuesday, with a Civil Procedure final approaching and a slight chill in the air, great and wise minds of the universe ponder two questions that have long plagued humankind:

1. Just what is it about Indigo Girls that Linda likes so very much?
2. What is a turtle dove?

I'll tackle them here.

Last night the selected DVD to which I fell asleep was Indigo Girls: Live at the Uptown Lounge. This video actually came out on VHS, before there were DVDs. Or at least before I knew about them. In 1990. Weren't we still on laserdiscs then? Anyway, Sony wisely re-released it on DVD a few years ago and I snatched it up. I'm not entirely sure where my VHS copy is. Arizona somewhere, perhaps? Why is everything I like so much in Arizona? (enchiladas, etc.)

I do believe any of you who scratch your heads and puzzle over what is so all-fire great about IG should watch this DVD. "If you hear the song [they] sing, you will understand..." (That's really clever of me, see, because "Get Together" is one of the songs they do in this performance at the Uptown Lounge.)

Those of you on Netflix can just add it to your queue. Those of you who aren't on Netflix--come now, what are you waiting for? No, really. I love Netflix almost as much as I love Indigo Girls! And enchiladas.

They had been on the road for several months touring. They were signed to Epic after years of playing together mostly around the South, and releasing a couple independent records. The video weaves interview wherein they talk about their "newfound" success with the performance at the Uptown Lounge in Athens, Georgia, their "old stompin' grounds" where they used to play a lot when things really started to happen for them. (They're from Atlanta, of course, but Athens, GA is close by and also had quite the burgeoning music scene in the mid-80s, you will recall--their buddies R.E.M., and the B-52s, among others...)

I was particularly struck upon this viewing by "Love's Recovery." It's an Emily song (for the uninitiated, that means it's written by Emily and she sings lead vocal on it; they write their songs separately and there's generally a half-and-half balance of Amy songs and Emily songs on each album and played in each concert) and it's a beautiful song and I really like it! But in the video I was watching Amy really like it. She sings harmony and plays rhythm guitar but during the first verse it's just Emily, and Amy takes a step back and is sort of crouched down, watching, and kind of knowingly shaking her head at lines like, "All the friends we thought were so together, they've all gone and left each other in search of fairer weather..."

At the end of the video, the interviewer asks, "What's next?" Emily says, "Tomorrow." Everyone laughs. The interviewer pursues, OK, so you're one of those quote-overnight successes that worked for years and years and years, but things like playing 15,000-seat auditoriums opening for R.E.M. have happened rather quickly, and, basically, what's up with that? Amy ponders that maybe they haven't really noticed yet. (Previously in the video Amy has mentioned that in their whirlwind tour and being in so many cities she was homesick for things "like grass. And trees.")

Emily goes on to say that they don't really think about that, that they just want to be better and better songwriters, and to "use our music as a tool for doing good whenever possible, and keep our commitments in mind. I don't think things are going to change."

And my god -- they have totally achieved that goal! Think about all they've done since 1990! The benefits, the political action work, creating Honor the Earth for god's sake, plus Chiapas, and Cuba, and Jesus Christ Superstar benefitting that anti-violence organization and and and -- just so much! And meanwhile they've also released ten more albums, finished their contract with Sony, traveled, lobbied Congress, started an independent record label (Amy), opened a restaurant (Emily), written a book about music and faith (Emily, with her dad the professor of theology), been featured in Boys on the Side (Netflix, people! Netflix! Netflix!), moved on this year to release Despite our Differences on Hollywood Records(an album on which Pink sings--where was Pink in 1990?!), and you watch this video and they look younger, and yet they're them! And you just think, wow. Time passes, and you just create, and work, and -- well, as Voltaire/Candide put it, you "cultivate your garden."

And besides, we get to look at SUCH great late eighties hair in the shots of the audience! That alone makes the video worth it!

As for turtle doves, I learned from Wikipedia that they are a migratory species in population decline, smaller than other doves, and with a tail that catches the eye due to its dark center and white tips. Wikipedia also notes that the turtle dove is often featured in songs about love and loss, perhaps due to its "mournful voice and the fact that it forms strong pair bonds." How appropriate!

And turtle doves are mentioned in the Bible, for example in the Song of Solomon/Songs 2:11-12: "For now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land."

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