Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Perfect Songs - Winter

tori amos

I have a playlist I've put together I call Zoey Sleep, that we use for the shocking purpose of getting my 4 year old daughter to sleep. It's not your typical set of lullabies, but instead features songs from Juliana Hatfield, Tanya Donelly, Bon Iver, Alison Krauss and several others. I add to it once in a while and she likes the songs I've added. But there's one that not only works best, it has a whole other impact on me: Tori Amos' "Winter.," a perfect song.

This song has taken on new meanings for me over the past 8 or so years, since the birth of our first daughter. Most nights, it works like a charm, calming Zoey down quickly which is a big deal if you know Zoey. It used to do the same for Shayera. And that calmness comes with a lot of reflection on my part as well as it gives me a few minutes of just laying with my daughter, listening to the lyrics and having images run through my mind. Every single time, there are tears. Usually they come after the girl is asleep, and I can just lay there listening to the rest of it.

I've always thought of this song as a (better) companion to Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide," complete with the father daughter relationship and the images of snow. The whole concept of growing older and somehow colder, from the daughter's perspective, and how the father is still there for her, knowing what the future will bring as she faces her teenage years, etc. Look, the song speaks for itself. It's beautiful and multilayered and it was always one of, if not my very favorite of Tori's songs. To the point that we briefly toyed with naming our first born Winter. But my moments with the girls tend to turn the song around a bit, because I imagine the conversation in it slightly different than is perhaps intended.

In my version, the father (me) and the daughters are both sort of saying parts of the lyrics to each other. "You must learn to stand up for yourself cause I can't always be around" is the guiding principal and heartbreaking truth that guides every parent that gives a shit about their kids. And maybe even more so when it's daughters facing a world that continues to be shitty to women. "When you gonna love you as much as I do?" could easily be my daughters telling me that when they were first born and I was really overwhelmed by what the love felt like from them and for them. And I hope it's not something I ever have to say to them, but then the song also goes into the complexity of what our relationship may be like as she gets older, when she says she'll always want her father near and he responds with "things change." By the time the song swells with the last verse about grey hairs, dreams on a shelf and wanting each other to be proud of the other, I'm usually laying in a puddle of tears.


I've always said the most tragic thing you can give a child is a balloon. It's really just a metaphor for mortality and never ends in happiness. It's just this ball of impending sadness. Either you watch it slowly die as it floats less each day, withering like a senile relative before your eyes in a matter of days, or it floats away before you had a chance to truly get to know it, forever a memory of happiness that really could never have been. Sure you can suck the life out of it and speak in a funny voice for a few seconds, but then you're a murderer and empty inside (yeah, just go with it). Even with all this pain, it doesn't prepare you for the realities of parenting. The dread you feel at maybe not being able to be there for them, no matter what, leads to panic when you realize you obviously can't. And then you scramble, daily, to prepare them for EVERYTHING, as if anybody possibly could. But you know full well you can't. You've lived this life and you know what it's done to you. I remember every balloon I've lost both literal and figurative. And it sucks that I can't keep my kids from losing their share as well.

So, yeah, I get a little warm in my heart when I think of Winter. 

1 comment:

  1. Music is known to be a relief to one person. This review upon the “Winter” was actually legit and I personally second the points raised in this blog.