Category Archives: music

longing to get away

I spent part of my evening in a juvenile correctional facility last night with a group of smart, articulate young women serving time for a variety of offenses and literally growing up while behind bars.  I spend quite a bit of my time teaching and volunteering in prisons and juvenile facilities, and I always enjoy talking with incarcerated young people.  While most have made some very serious mistakes, I very often come away impressed with their thoughtfulness and their resilience.

What particularly struck me last night was when several of the girls spoke about their dreams and fantasies about flying.  In doing so, they evoked – and perfectly quoted – the line from Forrest Gump, where young Jenny is praying to God to help her escape her father’s house and his abuse: “Dear God, make me a bird so that I can fly far, far, far away from here…Dear God, make me a bird so that I can fly far, far, far away from here….”

I’d seen the movie years ago, but that line never held the same resonance for me.  Lucky me.  I was fortunate enough to grow up cared for and loved, and as a child I never had to worry about protecting myself or getting out of the way of harm.  I wonder how many incarcerated youth can say the same?  How many children have their innocence destroyed and are never able to find a legal escape?

I think part of the reason these issues of youth, pain, and longing are lingering in my mind is because one of my favorite songs at the moment is “Take Me Away” which shares some of the sentiment of the girls’ discussion and Jenny’s prayer.  Some of the lyrics (written by Scott Alan):

Let me climb to the top
Of the highest mountain peak
Let me scream at the top of my lungs
Until I can no longer speak

Can’t remember the last time
I said live and let things be
And it’s just been way too long
Since I felt alive and free

So I’ll sail away
Until I reach the sea
So I’ll soar the sky
Until I feel the breeze

I am ready to return
To the place I last felt stillness
To return to the heart
I had when I was five

Where the only thing that mattered
Was making colors I can paint with
I’m much too young
To let my life hang out to dry

So I’ll sail away
Until I reach the sea
And I’ll soar the sky
Until I feel the breeze

If you have not heard this song, do yourself a favor and take 4 minutes to listen to Hadley Fraser sing it – his performance is absolutely brilliant:

“Take Me Away”

it’ll probably not be the last time i have to be out by the first

i got up early to take my class to a youth correctional facility today. we drove through grant hart-land and ended up by greg norton’s restaurant. feeling nostalgic over my favorite band’s breakup, i stumbled on a blog tribute and mp3 to 2541, mr. hart’s ode to love and the band’s old address.

pretty obscure, i know, but well worth the search for me.

well, they gave us a number,
they gave us a place to stay,
and billy got hold of a van, and man,
we moved in the very next day.

twenty-five forty-one — big windows to let in the sun. 2541…

well, we put down the money,
and i picked up the keys,
we had to keep the stove on all night long so the pipes wouldn’t freeze.

we put our names on the mailbox,
and I put everything else in the past,
it was the first place we had to ourselves — we didn’t know it would be the last.

2541, big windows to let in the sun. 2541…

now everything is over,
everything is done,
everything in my head,
has 2541.

well things are so much different now,
i’d say the situation’s reversed,
and it’ll probably not be the last time i have to be out by the first.

2541, big windows to let in the sun…

ninth & hennepin b/w god’s bathroom floor

a city pages blogger just popped me between the eyes with this lively photo of block e in ’73, guaranteed to bring sweet and sour memories for old minnesotans. back then, it was seedy, sexy, scary, showy, and skeezy. today? not so much.*

as a west st. paul kid, i recall wide-eyed and wonderful trips to this part of hennepin avenue. then, as an intern investigator with the public defender, i spent more time with the area’s crime. though i saw too much trouble there to really romanticize the place, moby’s big electric sign still brings a li’l electric charge.

tom waits wrote the block’s official soundtrack in r-rated tributes such as ninth and hennepin and christmas card from a hooker in minneapolis. if i squint hard enough through today’s spring snow, i can almost see the drunks, punks, and hustlers of old hennepin from my office window.

waits is great, but the scene puts me in mind of atmosphere’s contemporary tales of junkie redemption and minneapolis pride.

*for further study, james lileks offers a fine historical photo essay.

c-love

courtney love has successfully completed rehab and probation and is now officially off-paper. judge rand rubin terminated ms. love’s probation early when she finished a substance abuse treatment program. according to reuters, ms. love entered guilty pleas in 2004 and 2005 to some [silly] drug charges and pleaded no contest to [scary] assault charges in 2005:

Love was accused of dousing King with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label scotch, throwing a lit candle at her head and pinching her breast. The attack came after Love found King sleeping on a couch at the home of Love’s ex-boyfriend.

of course, this is no isolated incident. ms. love has had more than her share of legal problems over the years: juvenile and adult, criminal and civil, property and violent, trumped-up and let-off-easy. maybe i’ve got a soft spot for 42-year-olds named c-love, but i’m hoping this was her last pass through the criminal Justice system.