This week’s Free Ride* muses on the lyrics of Sarah McLachlan, the golden-voiced balladeer of British Columbia who turns 44 today. I was a relative latecomer to McLachlan’s music; I’ll admit that like many I was first introduced to her music through the chick flick “City of Angels,” in which the tear-jerker song “Angel” was central to the soundtrack. Her lilting voice with the occasional yodel-like skip drew me to check out more of her music, and I especially liked and still like the Freedom Sessions CD that she released back in 95.
What initially drew me to Freedom Sessions was seeing that it included an old Tom Waits tune, Ol’ 55. It’s a classic, covered by the Eagles, and not prettied up too much here in Sara McLachlan’s version, although it is a bit rough around the edges by her standards. If you want to hear a fairly wide spectrum of vocal performance, though, just listen to gravelly old Tom Waits sing Ol’ 55 and then listen to Sarah McLachlan sing it. I mean, Waits sometimes makes Bob Dylan sound like Luther Vandross. But either way, Ol’ 55 is one of those songs that has the flexibility to cover a lot of musical ground:
Well my time went so quickly,
I went lickety-splitly out to my old ’55
As I drove away slowly, feeling so holy,
God knows, I was feeling alive.
Now the sun’s coming up, I’m riding with Lady Luck,
freeway cars and trucks,
Stars beginning to fade, and I lead the parade
The freedom of the freeway is not the only lyrical reference to liberty here on Freedom Sessions, though. I love the song Plenty, that speaks of the painful freedom you find in finally acknowledging the truth of a broken relationship –
And then there’s the song Elsewhere, that speaks of another stillness, the mystical space of silence that allows one to break free of societal molds and live out a true self:
Whether we’re dealing with broken relationships or trying to discover what heaven means to us, a good way to do it is to find an ol’ 55 Caddy and take to the freeway, with a mix of Sarah McLachlan and Tom Waits to keep us company.