I’ve been spending a lot of time over recent weekends doing something I haven’t done in a long time: listening to the radio. There’s this community radio station where I live, WERU, that plays a ton of music I’ve never heard before. For most folks, that’s a reason to tune in elsewhere. For me, it’s absolute heaven. So last Sunday, I hear this song called “Old Dancing Fool.” I didn’t know who the group was, but the gorgeous harmonies and the waltz time drew me in. As it turned out, it was Red Molly, a folk trio who I’ve heard a lot about (but haven’t actually heard) because they play the New England area quite a bit.
Before I discovered who was playing the song, all sorts of ideas kept popping up, the most insistent of which was that the tune reminded me of “Dear Someone” by Gillian Welch. So I go looking for this “Old Dancing Fool” song. It’s on their album Love and Other Tragedies. But that came out in 2008, so another peek reveals that they have a new record, Light in the Sky … which leads off with their version of “Dear Someone.” Woah! It’s folk synchronicity. Or something.
Both “Dear Someone” and “Old Dancing Fool” share the ability to stop me in my tracks. “Devastating” is the word that a friend of mine uses. Is it the close harmonies? The waltz time? Hard to tell. The Red Molly song seems like a simple offer of love, to dance this waltz that’s come by at just the right time. But then things get quiet and this verse comes up:
And if we close our eyes and hold on to each other
Who knows baby, we may discover
That the world slips away and we can dance without movin’ at all
… and on that last line, every single bit of my world drops away so that I can contemplate this one perfect moment, of two people in love, separate from everything else.
It’s not just the words or the music. I don’t know what it is but tears come to my eyes. It’s powerful stuff … stuff that I wish more people cared about.