Ode to Mumford & Sons

I’ll never forget the day I heard them for the first time.  I was driving on I-20 from Birmingham, AL to Atlanta and The Spectrum on XM radio told me I was listening to “The Cave” by Mumford & Sons.  The band named sounded vaguely familiar, and after some more driving and thinking (and wishing radio was like DVR and I could rewind and listen to that song again), I remembered reading about the band in Paste Magazine (God rest its printed soul).  I started sniffing around and came across some more tracks, but like any other music fanatic, they sort of got lost in my library among other hidden treasures.  Then the summer came, along with its vacation time, and I found them again in all their glory.  And thus began the obsession.

This band gets my award for Best of 2010.  There is not a single weakness in their debut album, Sigh No More.  All twelve tracks have been played dozens and dozens of times according to my iTunes Library, not counting the times I’ve listened to the cd in my car.  Here is exactly what I love about them:  passion.  The songs have movement, transitioning from a whaling sorrow to an exuberant excitement that makes me raise my hands and shout the lyrics to the sky.  And speaking of lyrics…wow.  Here are some of my favorite lines (and by favorite I mean the ones that give me chills, make me replay the line, and cause me to consider tattooing them on my body–don’t worry, Mom…I’m not actually going to do it.)

Can you lie next to her and give her your heart as well as your body?  And can you lie next to her and confess your love, your love as well as your folly?  And can you kneel before the king and say I’m clean, I’m clean?  But tell me now, where was my fault in loving  you with my whole heart?  —White Blank Page

Love that will not betray you, dismay or enslave you…it will set you free.  —Sigh No More

You have your choices, and these are what make man great, his ladder to the stars.  But you are not alone in this.  You are not alone in this.  As brothers we will stand and we’ll hold your hand, hold your hand.  –Timshel

But I’ll find strength in pain, I will change my ways, I’ll know my name as it’s called again.  …  Now let me at the truth which will refresh my broken mind. —The Cave

Seal my heart and break my pride. I’ve nowhere to stand and nowhere to hide. Align my heart, my body, my mind, to face what I’ve done and do my time.  –Dust Bowl Dance

How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes.  I struggle to find any truth in your lies.  And now my heart stumbles on things I don’t know.  My weakness, I feel, I must finally show.  …  Lend me your eyes, I can change what you see, but your soul you must keep totally free.  —Awake My Soul

Ok, I just had to stop myself.  I think I could have written the lyrics to all twelve songs as it does my soul good to reflect on these words and when they’re combined with the strings of their instruments, just be ready.  It’s more than listening to a good album.  Mumford & Sons have managed to create a spiritual experience for their listeners.  And if you have a chance to see them live, GO!  You know I see a lot of concerts, and their show at Buckhead Theater was second on my Best Shows of 2010 list, just behind David Gray and Ray LaMontagne at Red Rocks.  If it tells you anything, I really didn’t take a single picture during the show, but to the right is one of me and my girls before the magic started.  I was completely engrossed in the performance, holding my hands over my heart or up in the air the entire time.

One more before I go…I just can’t help myself.

But plant your hope with good seeds.

Don’t cover yourself with thistle and weeds.

Rain down, rain down on me.  –Thistle and Weeds

A New England Holiday

On Christmas morning, I left a snowy Dalton and drove to Atlanta, boarded a MARTA train to the airport, and flew to Providence, Rhode Island to see my dear friend, Taylor, who now lives in Bolivia, South America.  There were some firsts for me:  first white Christmas, first time traveling on Christmas Day, first time visiting the Northeast United States, and my first time staying with a friend’s family for more than just a night.  As it turns out, I beat the blizzard by about 12 hours and spent Sunday watching the snow fall…and fall…and keep falling.  It was BEAUTIFUL.  I was truly taken by the charm of Rhode Island, especially covered in a white blanket that almost felt majestic.  The tiny state is full of Colonial-style homes, many built in the 1800s.  And the food there–WOW!  Quohogs, lobster rolls, clam chowder…yes, please.  Again and again. The Bartons ushered me all over their home state:  East Greenwich (where they live), Newport, Providence, Narragansett, Warwick, and Kingstown.  Each town had its own unique charms and even though the 14-inch snow kept us from exploring much on foot, I anticipate a return trip to that lovely state.  One day, Taylor and I took the commuter train to Boston, which lost its appeal amid the 40-mph wind gusts and temperatures in the single digits.  (I have never ever been that cold before.)  For those reasons, Boston remains on my must-visit list.  As you know if you follow my blog, I do most of my traveling alone, but this time I was surrounded by the Barton family, and it was such a treat to have them as my hosts and travel guides.  I love the pride they have in their home and the warmth with which they treated me as a guest in their home.  Becoming a member of their family, even if just for a few days, was an honor and a pleasure.