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Sitting Weeping in a car in California by Laura Barton

(Published in The Guardian on 26.12.14)

This year was a strange year.  The weeks seem blurred and indistinct to me now, though I remember the glimmers of it: Brazil, Bridgwater, Santa Fe; mimosa blossom, Heart of Gold, the sound of choughs on a warm Welsh morning.  

I have not often chosen to write about my personal life in my journalistic career; rarely do I imagine readers' lives enriched by such detail and mundanity.  But sometimes it seems impossible to write of anything else, and the loss of a child is a deep and particular grief; a root that spreads beneath all of the days of a year and leaves them unearthed.  

For a long time I do not look at it.  I cannot speak of it.  It sits in the dark place beneath deadlines and social events, gigs, emails, interviews, telephone calls, airports.  It lies under all happinesses and the bright days of summer.  

But I am driving along the coast of California when my iPod suddenly plays a song that I love and I find myself so buckled by sadness…

Merry Christmas!

Three Years From the 20th Century in Song

The Tallest Man on Earth - 1904



Phox - 1936



MewithoutYou - January 1979


Our Love / Our Love

Two great songs with the same song title.




To a Canadian Guy I Met in Barcelona (on the Subject of Music)

I've tried really hard to get into Arctic Monkeys since your recommendation.  I like the lyrics (I think) but I've never really liked Alex Turner's voice.  It's a shame because alongside the likes of fellow Mercury Prize winners Alt-J, they're one of the UK's most popular indie bands. But while i think Arctic Monkeys are deserving of the hype (at their best, they're brilliant storytellers:this performanceof Fluorescent Adolescent is one of my all-time favourites), I don't think Alt-J are.  Their lyrics are, quite frankly, stupid and the band have been deeply overhyped.   

I've been listening to a lot of songs by The National recently.  They've always been on my radar but it was only recently that I discovered songs like Don't Swallow the Cap and Bloodbuzz Ohio.  I don't highly rate them as songwriters; their songs lack coherence, but if you like taking lines on an individual basis, as I sometimes do, then they're definitely a band to …

Bloodbuzz Ohio

"I still owe money to the money to the money I owe, I never thought about love when I thought about home."

Don't Swallow the Cap

"When they ask what do I see,  I see a bright white beautiful heaven hanging over me."

A (Brief) Hoorah to Brevity: Five Great Songs Under Two Minutes Long

1.  Laura Marling - Crawled Out of the Sea (1:17)


2.  Neutral Milk Hotel - The Communist's Daughter (1:58)



3.  Joanna Newsom - On a Good Day (1:48)




4.  Iron & Wine - Die (1:08)



5.  Michael Johnston - Love Will Find You in the End (1:52)


Ten Songs I've Heard Over The Past Year That Have Impressed Me

1.  Make a Plan to Love Me by Bright Eyes

I've obsessed over Lua by Bright Eyes for years, and admit that I'd listened to that song (particularly the version he does with Gillian Welch that appears on the wonderful compilation 'Dark Was The Night') more than all of his other songs put together.  But when I stumbled upon Cassadaga at a charity shop, I thought I'd try and branch out.  I doubt Make a Plan to Love Me will be placed alongside the likes of Lua and Bright Eyes' other great songs, but it does have charm and I lose myself in it every time.  I played it while my dad was in the room last week.  He thought I was playing it just to annoy him.  I guess I'm just hooked on the sentiment.  

2.  How It Felt To Kiss You by Mara Carlyle
I bought Mara Carlyle's album from a car boot sale only last week.  I haven't had much time to digest it fully, but this instrumental track has quickly asserted itself as an early favourite.  Like the best songs, it allows…

The Day You Turned 27

I drop you off on the college road with traffic queuing the other way and the drivers sit in rank of thankfulness  with their windows down and lets say it was my prayer among a million others that caused the weather to develop a consciousness among other things and stay 
hot for your birthday and before you make your way through the park to meet the girls for evening coffee you thank me for this and this and this and with both palms upturned a pause and a catch in the throat I say that I am doing nothing more than what a good woman deserves and it is only after we part and you disappear through the fold of green that I notice the two hyphens 
in matter-of-fact had served as footholds as I said it
and it is is only when I negotiate my way back down 
to car level that I can use my feet to pull away.

Some Views From Andoversford

Welder

I never heard
 a welder
laugh
before noon 
until  I dropped
an apple
at 0700 
and it rolled 
towards 
him.
Ha       ha            ha,
You dropped your apple. 

I can show you 
so much life, 
I told her
Life more honest 
than the blush
of a laugh
from a rolling apple.

Runner

In the 6am warm up, 
shrug off the injustice
of failing to recall
the first of the dreams
you'll have about her, 
and meet the road.
Make it want to feel
the tapestry that exists
in the kingdom
within your chest,
and run it in, 
until the earth itself
amends the terms
of its inheritance.