The song: "The Days of Our Lives," The Blue Nile. Words and music by Paul Buchanan. Track 1 of High, 2004
How/when acquired: Purchased CD, September 2004
Happy September 1. The theme of this year's blog is "Songs of Experience." Every post will quote a line from a song in my iTunes collection — sometimes a song I choose, sometimes one that comes up randomly.
Music seemed the obvious next choice for a blog theme, since I've already done movies and books, and it holds an equally important place in my life.
At the moment my iTunes library comprises 7,013 tracks, which some of my friends will find pretty feeble — male friends, in particular, as music collections seem to be a predominantly masculine obsession. Quite a lot of my music collection are gifts from male friends, going back to cassette tapes I've owned since high school and vinyl albums I haven't been able to play in 20 years (but can't seem to give up). Even now, male friends and relations are responsible for most of the new material in my collection, which I appreciate very much. Women who like (and can talk) music are about as common as women who like and can talk sports, and I am happy to do it with my attached male friends who have long since bored their partners silly on the fine distinctions between punk and New Wave, or the relative merits of Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson, or the historical significance of the Velvet Underground.
Today's track, however, is one I bought myself. The Blue Nile, a band from Glasgow, is famous for its limited and long-anticipated output. High, its most recent album, came out in August 2004 and was the band's fourth album in more than 20 years. (The first, A Walk Among the Rooftops, came out in 1983.) I bought the CD at the Best Buy in Westwood in September 2004, days after the mishap that kept me in Los Angeles for six weeks longer than I'd originally planned (see the September 2004 blog entries for details). The purchase was an extravagance, as my music purchases almost always are; I needed every penny for the move to Maine, but I needed this album more.
This track starts the album with a lone piano playing a single chord as background to the melody, which is sung by band leader Paul Buchanan. It's a song about the disappointments of midlife whose refrain is "Are these the days/Are these the days/Are these the days/Of our lives?" What saves it from despair is the last line: "An ordinary miracle is all we really need."
My life is full of ordinary miracles that save me every day. Sometimes, that miracle is nothing more than the right song at the right time.