This week’s feature is a bit more personal than the norm.
When all the news hit the fan 10 years ago this Sunday, it was a time of distress and trying to find a rock to hold onto, finding something stable to root to and call one’s own. For me, in those days after the event, we were a community on edge: what happens next, is it safe to go anywhere? It was as if we’d all started living the lyric “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow…”
What I remember most when I look back at that time now was what happened in the next couple of days, with changes in the weather both literal and metaphorical. On the literal side, the temperature had gotten agressively cool and fall-like much sooner than expected, as if we’d fast-forwarded to All Hallow’s Eve. Metaphorically, everything was unseated and unpredictable, both personally and professionally, and in my own scramble for a balm against worry, I found solace in a recently released album by Rufus Wainwright, Poses. Not that any of the lyrics themselves had any direct bearing on the situation at hand, but there was something very calming about a singer/songwriter at his piano, dealing with his own earthquakes at the time.
I can remember going into one of our production rooms in the morning hours the week after the event, putting this album on and being…well, not transported, but thinking You know, anything can happen now. And whatever happens, you’ll deal with it and you’ll be alright.
And I have been. This album stands now not just as a memorial of that time for me, but as the rope that pulled me out of the well and told me that life would go on. The first three songs alone were getting a lot of repeat play from me, and something between the delicacy of the singing and the pop craft that would have filled many a seventies performer with envy kept pulling me back in, steadying my nerve and pushing me onward through the days. It felt a lot like falling in love again, after you had given up and thought you never would, with all of the raw nerves and butterflies in the stomach and wondering what would happen next, but feeling okay about the outcome, whatever it would be.
The problem with many albums heard in times of distress is that feeling that they’re incredible on hearing them in those circumstances, but then discovering years later that they don’t hold up as well as you’d thought. This one is a different story. When my sister got married a few years down the line, the album made its way onto the sound system at the reception to buy some time while I went to grab some dinner, and I heard it again and thought, yeah, this still has it, it’s still a wonderful piece of work. And apparently I wasn’t the only one: almost a dozen different people came up to me at the reception, asking about the album, the artist, where had I heard it, and so on. This album had legs, and now was not only associated with a distressing and overwhelming time, but also with a happy occasion as well.
Those kinds of albums are the ones that can surprise you the most, the ones that work in multiple contexts equally well, and that is what this one did for me. It holds pride of place, on my top shelf, as essential listening, and for me a definite desert island disc.
On this week’s OverEasy, we forego the usual feature album and come back to this bit of history, Rufus Wainwright’s Poses, along with another album that got overshadowed in the wake of the events of early September, Bob Dylan’s Love and Theft, that latter one having a release date of September 11th, 2001. In fact, many record stores didn’t have Love and Theft in stock, and wouldn’t have it for a while, thanks to the grounding of air travel. It’s a great album that got overwhelmed by circumstances, and this week we’ll come back to that album as well, and give it the fair hearing it always deserved.
Two archival features, and memories abounding, on OverEasy, Sunday morning and evening from 7 to 11, on 92.3 WTTS.
Thanks for reading, and for listening, and – most importantly of all – for being there.
-Todd Berryman, September 2011