When The Stranger I Met Today was initially introduced, I shared some parameters about how was I was going to learn valuable lessons from strangers. I assured you that the people discussed in my blog posts would utter at least one syllable to me and that I would respond with at least one syllable.
Last week, I attended a wonderful concert at the newly renovated Landis Theater in Vineland. Dar Williams and Loudon Wainwright III performed and it was fantastic. I’m a huge Dar Williams fan. This was sixth time I had seen her perform and the first time I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Wainwright live.
Now, have I technically met Dar Williams? No. However, she did ask the audience to participate in singing "The Christians and the Pagans?" Yes. I admit I sang along softly. So, I did in fact exchange at least one syllable with her. Based on the rules that were set in the beginning, she qualifies as a recent stranger. Dar charmed the audience and sang songs from her older albums and well as her newest, In the Time of Gods.
I don’t know whether she was introduced to me at a formative point and has always remained a favorite (my father took me to my first Dar Williams concert as a freshman in high school) or whether it’s as simple as I have been and continue to be enamored with her smart lyrics and melodic, beautiful voice. In between songs, she shared stories that inspired her songs. One song that was new to me, "I Have Been Around the World," was a straightforward, delightful song about wanting to return home to the one you love. Dar described someone else’s response to this love song while it was being written. “Finally” was what that person commented.
Maybe that’s another reason why I’ve loved her music so much over the years. Her songs don’t reside in the girl falls in love with boy, boy falls in love with girl, so in love and everything is wonderful, heartbreak over lost love, or could you call me (maybe?) to initiate that love; her songs reside somewhere else. That’s not to say that stories that involve love aren’t there—they are. They just aren’t smacking you in the face or restricted to the same beat-up ol’ tales of roses and sunsets. She shares poignant stories about admiration from a young girl for her childhood babysitter, reflection on therapy sessions, identity and what it means, and the joys of summertime.
I wasn’t expecting "I Have Been Around the World." A love song about wanting to get back home to your true love? That’s not edgy or very Dar-like. But, it worked and it was lovely and I appreciated that she shared her own love story with us. I also appreciated that it demanded our own inner-reflection because of the song’s unfamiliar quality. Sometimes, when something is outside of what you’ve come to expect, you experience the surprise in a way that encourages your perspective to widen. Sometimes it brings tears to your eyes and you are warmed by what simple words that send a simple message can conjure within you.