Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thursday's Lyric: On Your Side, Susan Enan


I've enjoyed being a part of a group of friends who have co-erced our friend James, who has a large house, to host a few house shows over the past year. So far, we've helped him host David Bazan and most recently, British-born singer-songwriter Susan Enan. 

I first heard of Susan through a Paste Magazine music sampler, where her song 'Bird' became a staple song on my favorite mix ever, the Run Away Album.

When her album 'Plainsong' came out, I bought it the day it released. It's an album of quiet, sweet, intimately honest and hopeful lyrics paired with a uniquely passionate voice.

Susan arrived early for the show, (incidentally, almost as early as David Bazan was late) and stood around in James' kitchen, casually chatting with us about the area, the drive, and her current tour, in which she had covered 18 countries, almost exclusively doing house shows. She was headed to Folsom Prison in a few weeks. Be sure to view her blog about the experience there. 

She set up a few t-shirts, cds, and a baby onesie with a lyric from one of her songs, 'Bring On the Wonder,' on James' kitchen table. When I bought a t-shirt, she pulled the size I needed out of a backpack. 

What I love about live music in general, is that it's nearly impossible to multi-task. I know people do it, and I usually snap a picture or two myself. But to truly enjoy is to really enter in to a several-hour 'moment' where all you have to do is be present, enter in, and enjoy (because, opposed to a book or a movie experience, a response is required). I know this is what conversation with God should be like, and really, live music sometimes is the closest you get in our busy lives. Perhaps a reason why worship music is such a phenomenon in recent...centuries, I suppose.

With the house concert in particular, I was sitting about a dozen feet directly in front of Susan until she pulled the chair a few feet forward, like a pre-school teacher during 'circle time.'

In her soft speaking voice, she said that even though she was expecting a friend from Vancouver to show up at any time, she supposed we should begin, and simply started with the song below. I knew the song from her album, but her soulful voice as well as the points of tension affecting my soul at the time brought my attention to the beauty of, and the innate need we all feel, a friend who sticks 'closer than a brother.' That friend who believes you're all right in spite of failures, who is truly there, who is alibi, light, and refuge. Who knows the worst and yet believes the best.

"On Your Side" 
from the album Plainsong by Susan Enan

If your lights are ever broken
And your vision’s less than calm
In the midst of the unspoken
I’m on your side.

If your guns are ever smokin’
I will be your alibi
I’ll be the drink to stop your chokin’
I’m on your side.

‘round the corner may be hills to climb
But you’re doin’ all right

If your morning brings a black sun
I will be your neon light
Drop your nets into the ocean
I’m on your side.

‘round the corner may be hills to climb
But you’re doin’ all right

If you’re feeling tired and weary
Let me carry you away
If you only do this, hear me
Singing, I’m on your side.

If you struggle for the finish
Across the great divide
If we’re all made in the image
Be on my side.

‘round the corner may be hills to climb
But we’re doin’ all right.
I’m on your side, yeah, I’m on your side
I’m on your side
I’m on your side


And just like that, first song, listening to every clear word expressing hope and belief in relationship, I was in tears. Because how often do we stop and listen to needs like this? We roar endlessly and almost thoughtlessly about feeling empty, alone, busy, tired, marginalized, constantly put-upon. But to stop and listen to the need and also the hope it means for ourselves, our communities...that is a rare kindness.

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