Suddenly, it's March.
Growing up in Buffalo, I was taught at an early age that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Well, maybe it did in tropical paradises like Omaha or Butte, but not so in Buffalo. More often than not, when March finally made it to Buffalo, it came in like a lion, went out like a lion, and then hung around on the front porch, blocking April's entry until at least mid-May.
That's why my mood changes to positively ecstatic when I see that spring is just around the corner (that is, when I can actually see around that corner, when my glasses aren't all fogged up, when I'm not blinded by a blizzard). This change of season makes me start to adjust some of my habits. I walk more, smile more, and complain less. (Well, maybe not that last one). I switch to open-toed shoes, and I start thinking about road trips. So, to celebrate the approach of spring, and to appease the angry god of March, the lion's share of this week's blog will be devoted to CHANGE.
Sensing a definite change in the weather yesterday, and telling myself that "a change would do you good" (wise counsel from Sheryl Crow in her 1996 hit song, "A Change"), I took to the sidewalks and dirt paths in my neighborhood, wearing my walking shoes and carrying my trusty cell phone, earphones, and water bottle. One of the first songs I listened to on my four-mile trek was Adele's "Chasing Pavements," which was precisely what I was doing. Luckily, Adele wasn't raised in Buffalo, or she might have written "Shoveling Driveways" instead.
Coincidentally (or maybe not, as last week's blog explored), several of the next songs in my queue had to do with -- you guessed it -- change. Joni Mitchell's "The Circle Game," Tracy Chapman's "Change," and Bruce Hornsby's "Gonna Be Some Changes Made" all seemed to be conspiring to provide me with today's topic, and they succeeded. But what I didn't expect was that they would lead me on a journey through time, back to the year 1400 B.C. Talk about your changes!
This time travel episode occurred because I got to wondering as I wandered, asking myself some pretty interesting questions, such as: Is "change" a common theme in songwriting? What's the oldest song ever written about change? What's the oldest song ever written about anything? And finally: Are we there yet?
As soon as I got home, I Googled “oldest song” and learned that the oldest song that we know of was recorded about 3,400 years ago, but it might be much older than that. It was inscribed in cuneiform on clay tablets, it included both lyrics and harmony, and it came with instructions on how to play the lute accompaniment (a sort of tablature). This ancient Syrian song is thought to be a plaintive hymn about infertility, devoted to the goddess of orchards, Nikkal. The world's first song was a bluesy hymn? Lord have mercy!
That also answered my question concerning the oldest song about change, because I have to assume that the singer of that old Syrian tune was hoping for some very obvious changes approximately nine months later. But if you're looking for a quicker fix than that, how about listening to some of the following songs about change?
Waiting On the World to Change, by John Mayer
Change the World, by Eric Clapton
Landslide, by Stevie Nicks
Changes, by David Bowie
A Change, by Sheryl Crow
Change, by Tracy Chapman
Gonna Be Some Changes Made, by Bruce Hornsby
A Change Is Gonna Come, by Sam Cooke
Sunrise, Sunset (from Fiddler on the Roof, by Bock and Harnick)
The Circle Game, by Joni Mitchell
Things Have Changed, by Bob Dylan
The Waters of March, by Antonio Carlos Jobim
Chances are, you were expecting "The Times They Are A-Changin'" by Bob Dylan, but I wanted to change things up! And that last one -- well, no list of songs about change would be complete without The Waters of March. I highly recommend it for keeping Old Man Winter at bay, and for appeasing an angry lion.
Here are a few lines from The Waters of March to lighten your step today, just in case you're out there chasing pavements:Afloat, adrift, A flight, a wing, A hawk, a quail, The promise of spring And the riverbank talks of the waters of March, It's the promise of life It's the joy in your heart.