As the result of an e-mail penned after work this afternoon, the Crone Goddess (and I mean that in a good way), Patti Smith, took up residence in my head with two poetical outro lines from her fabulous "Dancing Barefoot."
"Why must we pray screaming?"
"Why must not death be redefined?"
And after a bit I moseyed over to my You Tube account and watched my favorite rendition of this song ever, with just Patti herself, live, accompanied only by Oliver Ray on an acoustic guitar. This performance never fails to move me.
After quoting those two lines to my friend in that e-mail, and watching the video, in which Patti does not recite either of those lines, the simplest thought occurred to me. I could have followed this whim years ago, but didn't think of it.
The video does not show enough of Oliver's fretwork for me to be able to figure out the chord progression. It sounds maddeningly simple, yet it has eluded me since I first picked up my guitar seriously, ten or so years ago. (I was working on a novel about a guitarist. I thought I should have some notion of how to play so I could tell the story with somewhat accurate guitar references, so I picked one up and proceeded to refresh my attempts at self-teaching from my high school days. It sucked, and I don't know exactly why I kept going, but I did, and now I'm not half bad at accompanying myself. It is enough, and satisfies me.)
But from those days until now, I just could not for the life of me figure out exactly what the progression was, or where it should sit on the fretboard.
I've come to the conclusion that there is a good reason for this.
"Dancing Barefoot" is not a young woman's song, and I was a much younger woman when I first sought to play it. I had not been shaped and deepened enough. I needed to be older, perhaps on the brink of Goddess Cronedom myself.
Here I am.
Here is the internet.
Here is Google.
Tablature for "Dancing Barefoot" on the first hit.
As my friend Mal has been known to sing, "It rules to be Old."
Now that I am poised at the brink of Old, I may have this song and possess it, and make it somehow into an expression of my own as life marches on and the road slopes gently downward.
I will never even come close to being of Patti's calibre in any realm, but I will be forever grateful that she continues to uplift me in my later years as much as she did in my younger ones.
The song is Patti's, and can never really "belong" to anyone else, but for some reason, today, in this time, in this place, I have been granted permission to play with it, and to spin it in my own way.
O, I am happy...