|Grace Potter | Photo by Jason Gonulsen|
Writing only about what you know is bad advice, but at certain times, it’s really all you have.
I’m talking about undeniable moments here, when you’re completely caught in them, wanting to hold on for as long as possible. And a few of those happened last night at The Peabody Opera House, where Tristan Prettyman, Grace Potter, Gavin DeGraw, and Train played an “Acoustic Christmas” show.
But I only want to talk about Prettyman and Potter here, if that’s okay, only because I’m not up to speed on DeGraw and Train, and music is about feeling to me (I will note that DeGraw gave an emotional, tearful speech on the recent events in Newtown, CT, and I was moved. So thanks for that, Gavin).
Let’s start with Tristan Prettyman, who opened the show with a short set that focused on her solid new album, Cedar + Gold. I’ll tell you that this album is important to me because of its words, and the times I sang “Say Anything” with a very special person in my life, who’s now doing her own thing in a far away land.
I won’t get into that much, though.
But I will tell you that Prettyman played “Say Anything” last night, and it’s a song I’ve carried with me for months now, with its meaning being something different every time I get to hear it.
“You should listen to your heart, it’s gonna tell you what you need,” Prettyman sings.
And I can’t express this enough — if you don’t have an idea of what that means to you at this point in your life, you will, someday. I can promise you that; especially in a world where darkness reappears, and we question why we’re here, what we’re doing, and what we can do to make it better.
“Say Anything” is a song for right now, and what you need to do in your life. To challenge yourself, to not just talk about being honest, but actually being transparent, in the moment, vulnerable as hell, facing up to pain, and in the end, loving yourself.
Have we forgotten how to love ourselves?
“Yeah, your mind was always moving, but your thoughts never made a sound.“
I challenge you all, wherever you are in your life: let your thoughts make a sound.
Grace Potter, who will be back in St. Louis with her band, The Nocturnals, at The Pageant on January 10th, was next, opening with “Nothing But The Water,” another song for our times.
“I have seen what man can do, when the evil lives inside of you,” Potter sings.
It’s a song about starting anew, and Potter’s songs talk about that same idea time and again. Listen to “The Divide” or “Apologies,” the latter which was performed solo on piano, as gorgeous as anything live I’ve heard this year, and another song that I’ll always carry with me; its mark on my life cannot be calculated, and is infinite.
“It’s crazy, how love stays with me,” Potter sings. “You know, and it hurts me, ’cause I don’t want to fight this war.“
Oh, but we must. We must fight the wars through love and fear, even in the times when it feels like it’s “too late for a soliloquy.” Because it’s never too late for dignity. Or apologies.
Which brings me to “Stars,” a song Potter dedicated to anyone who has ever lost someone, or has experienced loss of any kind. Things that slip away — that’s what “Stars” is; looking up at the sky, reaching for something — dreaming of something or someone — that exists in sight, but not in touch, or taste; it’s an experience that will only make sense to you, and no one else.
“And if I know you at all, I know you’ve gone too far,” Potter sings.
Here’s how Potter performed “Stars” last night.
Potter later brought out one of the Nocturnals, drummer Matt Burr, for “Never Go Back,” and an electric ending featuring Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock and Roll,” and “Paris (Ooh La La),” complete with her Flying V guitar, making you wonder how an artist who was just pouring out her soul, alone on piano, could possibly be able to flip the switch and make everyone in the room party and dance.
Yeah, it’s crazy. It’s crazy, how love stays with me.