A letter to Spirit Of The West

Dear Spirit Of The West:

I meant to write this letter last year, when I was pregnant. Since I am writing it now, it will be a slightly different letter, what with the birth of my first child in February and all. My original letter was going to say, “Hi. I’m an American fan, and I’m pregnant, and I was wondering if you were planning on doing a live show somewhere near the eastern border of our countries, preferably near New England, like in southern Quebec or southeastern Ontario, so that I can see you perform live before I give birth to my first child, which would make such a possibility invariably more challenging.” I never got a chance to write that letter.

So: Hi. I’m an American fan, and I haven’t gotten to see you perform live, which is very sad indeed, but maybe one day when my son is old enough or I can con someone into watching him for long enough, we/I will come and see you, preferably when you do a show relatively close to New England, because it’s probably too much to ask you to do a show in New England.

In the meantime, I am raising my son to be a fan as well, because I think it’s important to expose people to exceptional music, particularly in areas where said exceptional music is mostly unknown, e.g. around me, which is a damn shame.

Honestly I don’t think it will be much of a feat, making him a fan. He’s already showing a preference for folk music and you are among his favorites. He hears it in the house, he hears me loudly singing along with it in the car, which is the only place I will do that. I play it to keep him company when I have to leave him alone to do things like brush my teeth.

And when he’s old enough to ask me, “What’s this music?” I will answer in much the way I do when grown-ups ask me this question. I will say, “Oh, they’re this amazing folk-rock band from Canada, they’ve been together for a long time and have all sorts of different styles going on, here let me play you a few of my favorites,” and I will play “Drinking Man” and “D For Democracy” and “Bone Of Contention” and encourage them to buy your CDs though they’re hard to find and usually kind of expensive when you can find them because they’re imports, because sadly we live in a pretty culturally insular place.

And then my son (whose name is Desmond, by the way) will say, “This music is familiar and comforting, probably because I heard it a whole lot in the womb and as a baby, but even if it wasn’t I’d love it, but because it is I love it even more, because it’s great, and that guy’s voice is awesome, and that flute!, and all the rest, too. And Mama, you shouldn’t feel ashamed to sing along loudly, even if you can’t carry a tune, because it’s so lovely when you sing, not the quality of the singing of course, but because it’s clear that you too love this music, and are really in touch with the emotional quality of it, and really identify with the emotional quality of it. And when you listen to it, when you sway to it, when you sing along, it’s clear that it brings you to your happy place, though that may seem a bit of a misnomer to people who don’t know that when I say that, I mean a place more akin to your connective place, your human place, the place where your faith in life and the world and humanity is renewed, where you love unconditionally. Sometimes that place makes you happy and sometimes it makes you melancholic and sometimes it makes you righteously angry and sometimes it just calms you down, but whatever it is, it’s always a really worthwhile emotional state. So sing! Belt it out! Show your love for this music not just in spoken words but through the honest rhythmic qualities of your tuneless singing voice.”

And one day, I may listen to him. I probably wouldn’t be able to help it, if I were to ever see you perform live.