Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Thousand Arms

I love music.  I always have.  However, in these last few years of my life music has become stale.  When I was young there was so much more music out there.  There were ever so many record companies.  I was also discovering older music that blew my mind.  This was of course, before classic rock stations outnumbered new music stations by 10-1. 

Despite there being no internet, there were all these avenues for new music to come out.  And there was just so much of it.  It's was okay if you didn't like a lot of the popular bands.  There were another hundred or so coming out with new music all the time. 

As I have gotten older, there are less music companies.  There is less rock n' roll, and fewer new radio music stations.  The funny thing is that are more local bands, and more people interested in actually playing music.  But as I've gotten older I've noticed that I don't have that initial love of a song the first time I hear it.  It used to happen all the time when I was younger.  Now-a-days, I've basically forgot what that feels like.

But something changed recently.  The last few years I've had friends suggest that I listen to our community radio station 88.5 FM WMNF.  They actually have shows like TV stations do.  They will play one kind of music during one show, let's say 60's acoustic.  Then they will have local bands the next hour.  It makes it great listening in that, they don't have a set playlist like pretty much all the other radio stations.  You never really know what they might play.

The one music genre that peaked my interest was Americana.  There has been a new music scene with Alt/Country and Americana which to me sounds like a new way of saying, "Southern Rock."  I've heard some great songs on WMNF that I would not normally hear on any other station. 

A few days ago they played a song I had never heard, but I immediately loved.  However, I had no clue the name of the song or who sang it.  Was it a local band?  Was it an older band?  Was it a new song?  Well, I managed to find it thanks to the magic of the internet.  It turns out it's called "1000 Arms" from a Canadian band called "Blue Rodeo."

So it turns out the perfect Americana song is from a Canadian band that's been around for 30 years and just released their 14th album.  Not to mention they are in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.  "1000 Arms" is perfect, but not for the reason I thought it was.  I was pulling the video of it up when I found there was no "official" video.  But there was one where they were in the studio playing it live, and talking about the inspiration behind the song.  This is it:

The story behind the song is about a woman named Janie who had crippling bi-polar episodes.  She moved from town to town until she opened a coffee shop in San Francisco.  When she would go into one of her episodes she had many friends who would help her and the coffee shop out until she recovered. 

The song is not just about her, but the community around her.  They had a person and a place that was special to them, and they came together to take care of them both.  It makes me think in times like this where we are so divided that you could have that many people come together to do something good.  That's why "1000 Arms," is such an amazing song.

I think back to when I played football, and injured my knee.  I was sent to our team doctor because of the seriousness of it.  Everyone knew about it, and there was no stigma.  A decade later when I became infected with the real flu, I ended up in the hospital and received IV treatment along with a few shots of medicine.  Again, there was no stigma. 

But if you tell someone you see a mental health specialist, well, there is a stigma.  And that's why I love "1000 Arms."  It takes away the stigma of mental illness.  It addresses that the community knows Janie can sometimes have a bi-polar episode, and still be a good person and a productive business owner. 

I hope that "1000 Arms," can receive more airplay in the U.S.  I don't think any other station in the Bay area would play it, but one can always hope.  So I have to say, Blue Rodeo, you have a new fan.  Thank you for what you wrote. 

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