Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My brother’s standing on the welfare line

The door onto my grandparents' garden

For a long time now, I’ve had a theory about Bob Dylan’s album Blood on the Tracks. As everyone knows, Dylan composed this album in the middle of his break-up with Sara, the love of his life, mother of his four children. It is, without doubt, the greatest break-up album of all time. My theory is that for each break-up, all of them, throughout all human history, there is a matching song on Blood on the Tracks.

Bitter break-ups: Idiot Wind.
One-night stands: Simple Twist of Fate.
A slow, gentle infatuation that has no chance at a future: You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go. Et cetera.

My theory expands beyond that. When a person is inside of a relationship, and can identify which break-up song is the break-up song for that particular relationship, that is the moment when it’s over. I’ve had that miserable experience, when I lived in Chicago, where I had at least one Idiot Wind and a couple of If You See Her, Say Hellos.

Since growing older, I’ve noticed that Dylan is one of many artists that sings plenty of songs about the fevered beginning of relationships and their hollow ends, but almost no songs about the middle. Which is, of course, the hard part. Falling in love isn’t difficult. Leaving, most of the time, is easier than staying. But the middle is the meat of the thing.

Staying with a person requires desperate faith and hope, and an almost unassailable belief in the power of truth. I’ve been learning that lately, or trying to. To just tell the truth. Even if it’s: I really want to paint a wall of the kitchen red. Or: I bought ice cream. Or: I feel awful today.

The song I think comes closest, at least on Blood on the Tracks, is You’re a Big Girl Now.

Our conversation was short and sweet
It nearly swept me
Off of my feet.
You are on a dry land
You made it there somehow

Bird on the horizon sitting on a fence
He’s singing a song for me,
at his own expense
And I’m just like that bird,
singing just for you
I hope you can hear me
Singing through these tears

Time is a jet plane
It moves too fast
But what a shame
If all we’ve shared can’t last
I can change, I swear.
See what you can do
I can make it through
You can make it, too.

Love is so simple
To coin a phrase
You’ve known it all along
I’m learning it these days

I can change, I swear, he says. Don't we all feel like that? I am changing, day by day. I watch my plants grow and some days it feels like they’ve metamorphosed since yesterday. They’re changing, and I am, too, and my prayer is to grow together, to flower, to produce the fruit of the Spirit. I’m just like that bird, singing. Love is so simple, and I’m learning it these days.

3 comments:

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wfrenn said...

Melissa,
How do you come by your intriguing blog titles, most of which have little to do with the subject of your blog?
Good luck on your book!!!

The Capt'n

Melissa said...

All of my titles are lines from songs, generally Dylan songs, but also other artists. I've thought about attributing them, but it seems pointless when they can be copied and pasted into Google. I often start with a title as a germ of an idea, and then the post goes in a different direction. Here, I was thinking of "brother" in the figurative sense--someone that one shares a bond with, and who may be down and out. As one often is, post break-up.