Captive on a carousel of time

Grace came home from a day of her second week of third grade with two announcements.  The first was that this year she had Mrs. S for music, who also taught me, back in the dark ages.  The second was that they were learning Joni Mitchell’s Circle Game.  Whit, with his uncanny ability to suss out things that will pierce right to my heart, immediately took an interest.  They spent a day or two learning the words, and I kept promising we’d listen to the recording (which of course I have).

Circle Game is up there with Landslide on the list of songs whose associations are so strong as to often overpower me.  They are both songs that were a part of my own childhood, both songs whose lyrics grow ever more poignant as I grow up myself.

So the other afternoon we listened to Circle Game in my bedroom, dancing and singing along.  We danced in a circle, holding hands, and Grace’s and Whit’s voices rang with Joni Mitchell’s.  I tried to sing but was mostly crying so I could not.  Several times I thought I should stop and take a picture, but I didn’t want to let go of their hands.  Grace and Whit kept looking at me, emotion frank in their faces.  It was a rare moment that I knew was becoming a memory even as I experienced it.  For four minutes I said: be here, Lindsey.  Don’t step out of the frame in order to photograph this.  Just live it.

And I did.  With tears streaming down my face and a little hand in each of mine and words as familiar as my own name ringing in my head and in my heart.  I was there.

When the song ended, Whit flung himself onto the small Oriental rug on the floor and sighed, “I am already dragging my feet to slow the circles down, Mummy.”  And he is.  But wow, so am I.  I am mostly frantic about and occasionally resigned to the rotation of the years.  It occurred to me that Circle Game could well be an alternative title for the book I’m writing.  Subtitle : captive on a carousel of time.

Are there songs that are laden with memories and emotion for you?  Are there song lyrics that speak directly to your heart?


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13 Comments

  1. Posted September 27, 2011 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    I mostly hated the Prince Caspian film, but the Regina Spektor song at the end, The Call, was one of those “pierce to the heart” pieces. My husband couldn’t understand why I was suddenly choked with tears, still doesn’t understand why my voice catches every time I try to sing it to the littles, and I can’t even explain it very well, but it raises up such a sense of nameless longing, such a beautiful mix of sorrow and hope, that I can’t help but love it.

  2. Posted September 27, 2011 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Gorgeous. I’ve been trying to do the same, stopping for just a moment and being there. (I like the subtitle. I like it a lot.)

  3. Kerri Warner
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Good for you, Lindsey, for just immersing yourself fully in the moment! My beloved mother passed away when she was 37 and I was 10 years old. I am now a mother myself – a 41 year old with a two year old boy and five year old girl and we often listen and dance to music. Though I only infrequently listen to 70s tunes, admittedly, I’m still moved by the records my mother played and the memories they evoke: Judy Collins “Who Knows Where The Time Goes,” Kenny Loggins “Whenever I Call You Friend,” Cat Stevens “Oh Very Young,” and Bruce Springsteen, “Thunder Road.” Love them all still.

  4. Posted September 27, 2011 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    I have those moments myself, where I will myself to stay in them. Just the other day ago I was watching Abra play sweetly with another baby, and I had the impulse to jump up and make a little video. But I knew that any movement on my part would break the energy of the moment. So I sat there, watching her, taking it in.

    PS: Love that as a title for a book!

  5. Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Sounds like a perfect title! Circle Game and Landslide are two of the songs I too can’t get through without at least a few tears and sometimes a good cry. I used to (try to) sing Circle Game to the boys when they were little. Daniel came home from school and told me they chose their 6th grade graduation song and that it was ALMOST Circle Game. He said, “Mom, you would have been a mess!” Throw in the picture book I’ll Love You Forever, and I’m reduced to a puddle of a woman.

  6. Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Without a doubt, it is “Fly Away” by the Indigo Girls. It is on the playlist I typically listen to when I take a morning walk, and without fail I cry every time I hear it. And I love that.

    “The saddest song I ever heard was the one I wrote you in my heart that never made it to the world.”

  7. Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Oh my.

    I can just see you in your white shorts and tee shirt leading all those kids out.

    Yes, a great title!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Posted September 27, 2011 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Lindsey, one thing I love about this post is that you trust your words to give us the picture — and the DO! You didn’t need a photograph, you captured the essence of this moment so beautifully here. I so admire your willingness to feel what you feel, and to share it. Beautiful!

  9. Posted September 27, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    I hear, and feel you, loud and clear, Lindsey.

    Maybe if we cannot slow down we can instead go so willingly, and lovingly, as you are learning to do, that time itself stands still, pulsing with some eternal vibration that transforms love itself into carousels, children, moments and unending circles…

  10. Posted September 28, 2011 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Landslide is also a song that never fails to bring me to tears. I love singing along to music, but that song always chokes me up and I can only mouth the words. Also I Look to You. Very few songs do it, but when the lyrics have that much power over my emotions it always blows me away. I’m really glad you lived in the moment for your telling was the only photograph I needed to be right there with you all listening and dancing to the Circle Game.

  11. Posted September 28, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    This post was difficult to read (back to back with the above post) without crying. So I did some crying.

    I am SO GLAD you didn’t step out of that circle to photograph it. Being there (and then writing about it, even) are SO MUCH BETTER. (Said the pathological picture-taker.) “Landslide” has killed me since college–I cry almost every time still. There’s also “This Woman’s Work” by Kate Bush (I think) and Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes.” I could go on here forever… James Taylor “Fire and Rain.” CSN&Y “Song for Susan.” Any number of songs by Joni.

  12. Posted September 28, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    I can relate to this directly. In fact it was Landslide, just the other day, and I hadn’t heard it in years. My husband and daughter pulled the car up to pick me up and the song was at the very begining as I opened the door. “Oh I love this song” I said and then had to turn to face the window with a lump in my throat as I sang along.

  13. Sheona
    Posted October 24, 2011 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    What a beautiful post. For me, since I was four or five ‘Scarborough Fair’ and ‘Greensleeves’ (which used to tumble scratchily out of the tannoy on our local ice cream van) have made me cry. Not everyone’s heartstrings are tugged like this by a tune. I feel blessed every time music stirs me to tears.