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The Stranger I Met Today

My stranger this week qualifies on a technicality, but she still qualifies.

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. 

Lesson Learned

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. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Terry November 07, 2012 at 11:49 AM
That's what I like about the singer-songwriter genre. Dar happens to be one of my favorites of that ilk. I was introduced to her back in the 1990s by WXPN. Though, I can't count her as a stranger encounter, like you...haha. Her song, "When I Was a Boy," left me with a similar experience to yours when I first heard it. I got to see Dar at the Scottish Rite Auditorium in Collingswood in 1999 in one of the first musical acts to play there. It was while she was part of the trio Cry Cry Cry, and it was a very intimate concert and a perfect venue for it.
Angela Speakman November 11, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Terry, I was never able to see her perform in Cry, Cry, Cry, but I did catch her solo act (I think John Gorka opened) at the Scottish Rite. There's something so special about smaller venues. There is a heightened feeling of intimacy. Thanks for the post and happy reading!

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