A quick post before heading off to Thanksgiving dinner:
Rs sent me a copy of the live version of Rondinelli’s Castle that he mentioned in comments on the last post. It’s a nice version, it feels more emotionally direct than the album version.
Listening to it this time I was struck by the line in the opening verse, “He was looking for the new world; well we all were in those days.” It struck me that, in that way, the song is related to The Ballad of Elizabeth Dark by Michael Smith — both are songs written by older musicians who have written and performed for a long time, looking back at their youth in the 50s, and reflecting the fact that, whatever one’s sense of possibilities looking at the world as a younger person it is inevitable that the world will change in ways that are far larger and less predictable than you can think.
A while ago at unfogged someone brought up the idea of “gateway songs” — songs that are different than the majority of an artists work in ways that make them easier to get into, but that prepare you to appreciate the virtues of that musician. For me “The Ballad of Elizabeth Dark” was a gateway song for Michael Smith who is now one of my favorite songwriters. There’s something about his performance style that is both seemingly casual and simultaneously very mannered which can take getting used to. “The Ballad of Elizabeth Dark” is one of his songs that feels immediately personal, and it grabbed me immediately.