This month I have a significant birthday. Over the last few weeks I have been creating a playlist of 60 tracks for my 60 years – songs which in one way or another have been important for me. Some have particular memories; some are simply tracks I love. I’d got to 60 although it’s a work in progress – there are plenty on there I’m not sure about and many I am sure I have missed. But last night I added this as a 61st. Marie Courtney Andrews’ ‘Honest Life’ is the most recent record I’ve bought and I’ve been playing it a lot these last few weeks. She’s 26, my daughters’ generation. It must be hard to be original at that age, certainly if you’re ploughing a country singer-songwriter furrow. Listening to the album I can hear echoes of plenty of older artists who are either on my playlist or could be – Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Nanci Griffith. So there’s nothing especially new here.
Except that nobody has written these exact words before, and set them to this particular melody, and sung them in this particular way, and set them to these particular arrangements. So many people have been in this territory before, but never exactly like this. So, actually, it is newly minted, it is unique, and it’s great. It speaks to me, and about me, and for me.
And that’s why I keep listening to music I haven’t head before, because someone with talent will come up with a way to say something old but make it new.
I think this is a gorgeous song and I love the fact that a 26 year old woman from Arizona can tell this grizzled 60 year old Brit about his life.
Right when you have it all figured out
Life comes to throw you another doubt
But my heads up high
And I ain’t got nothing but time
To work at living an honest life
All I’ve ever asked for is a way to understand
All of life’s lessons the best that I can
How to be honest
How to be wise
And how to be a good friend
Some things take a life time to fully understand