Day One - Your Favorite Song
Barenaked Ladies "When I Fall" (video on YouTube.com)
I had written about how Ed Robertson made me cry in November when they performed this as their final encore. This song has stuck with me for years and years. I remember the very first time I heard it. Doug was in one of those CD membership programs and kept forgetting to send back the card saying "I do not want the CD this month," so we'd end up with CDs that we didn't like. BNL's "Rock Spectacle" came in the mail, and I knew two of their songs, "Brian Wilson" and "Old Apartment." I liked those, so I thought I'd give the CD a try. I opened it instead of shipping it back.
Best decision I ever made for myself.
This is the fifth song on the CD, and takes the energy of the lineup of tunes down from the rollicking opening of "Brian Wilson" and creepy high energy insanity of "Straw Hat and Old Dirty Hank." Simply put, it defines what I love about BNL -- Ed and his guitar. I like their silliness, I LOVE Steve's voice (a couple tracks before this song on the CD, I was introduced to "Break Your Heart," which to this day still does break my heart, though for all the wrong reasons since Steve left the band).
The video that I link to for this was recorded a couple years ago in something Ed called "The Bathroom Sessions." He went through their song catalog and performed dozens of their songs live from the edge of his bathtub in his brand new refurbished bathroom. I love how he sings it, I love the guitar work. I love how beautiful he is. I love that it is a song about a window washer, and what goes through his mind. Is he talking to someone he loves? Is he talking to God? The whole pondering of his life in the balance, while up on a scaffold, just brings tears to my eyes. The whole dilemma of "what am I doing with my life" and the sadness about one's vocational choices has always struck me so deeply, I can't even express it. And the final verse always does me in, with its simple poetry:
"I look straight in the mirror, watch it come clearerI remember hearing that for the very first time, and just crying. I don't know why. I think I was deep in hate with my own job, not sure what I was doing with my life, pregnant with my second child, wanting to swap places vocationally with anyone, almost anyone. And to have this simple, sad song about a suicidal window washer just melted me.
I look like a painter behind all the grease.
But painting's creating, and I'm just erasing.
A crystal clear canvass is my masterpiece."
This is my favorite song. And it is okay that a favorite song makes you cry. It's also incredibly powerful for me, because it started my mad love affair with Barenaked Ladies. I wore out that CD, I raised my children on it. They could do the whole Bryant Street Theatre "Lady, you're an idiot!" riff in the bonus tracks. I love this band, and this song made me do it.