Adventures with Dr. Lady Cutie Troublemaker

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Swell is Such an Understatement

By Abby at 12:51 pm on Friday, May 16, 2008

What can I even say about The Swell Season? It was a delicious songfest that felt like snapdragons singing in the sun and a big noncreepy hug from an old wise man and like falling in love and like when you’re laughing so hard that you can’t stop. I was rivited the entire time. It was so much more than I could have imagined. It was an entire evening of delight. They could have come out, sung the songs from the movie Once, and gone home, but nonononononono! They didn’t do that. They sang many new songs. They sang some Pixies. They told us stories. They opened up their hearts and told us about their day, their thoughts about life, about America, about Irishness, about humility and facing problems.

I think my favorite analogy of the night (there were many) was Glen Hansard’s description of himself in the back garden (you know, y’all… a “yard”) kicking a ball. And his goal is that he’s going to get that ball all the way to the end of the garden. So he kicks it, and it reaches the back of the garden, then it goes over to the next garden, and out to the street, and into the next town, and then into towns he’s never even heard of. He was describing the momentum and trajectory of the song “Falling Slowly”, which you have no doubt heard, and if you haven’t… let me be the first to introduce it to you.

Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova – Falling Slowly
Found at

This is the song that is featured in the movie Once. If you read this blog, you’ll know that I was completely in love with this movie. The song was the catalyst that brought these two together in the film. It wasn’t a soundtrack. He’s teaching her the song while she plays the piano. Their relationship changes from the beginning of the singing to the end. Music brought these two together in fiction and reality. What a beautiful thing.

So anyway, back to the analogy. I loved what he said last, in the way only an Irishman can: “JAY-sus, this song has been good to us.” It’s been good to me, too, as have the rest of their songs.

Glen Hansard is a raconteur and a magical man. It’s hard to even describe the hold he has on an audience. My friend Roz would call what he does putting people in a “happy trance.” I know I was in one, as was Katy. Near the end, I found it so fitting that he fit in a melody from “Willy Wonka”: “Come with me, and we’ll be in a world of pure imagination.” You know the tune? I’ve always loved it. It fit right in. I haven’t seen the newer version of that film, but the way I felt during the show was that same wide-eyed, enchanted feeling. The lights they used had the effect of lighting up the entire space of Meymandi as the songs swelled – like dawn or sunset. It made the music feel big, although they didn’t need help with that. Swell Season is such a perfect name. There is the feeling of smallness and intimacy, and then something really big – bigger than everything.

Filed under: Music,Ramblings/Brain Dumps/Opinions3 Comments »


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Comment by Drew

May 16, 2008 @ 3:07 pm

Beautiful writing, Abby.

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Comment by Abby's mom

May 17, 2008 @ 8:52 am

Drew, I was thinking the same thing. Abby, I didn’t know you had that poetic sense in you, but Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova could bring it out. I would dearly love to see them, but apparently Nashville is the closest they’ll come to me.

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Comment by Abby

May 17, 2008 @ 12:13 pm

Thanks, Drew and Mom. Yeah, I have my moments. I’m usually such an iconoclast, but what can I say? I was moved… and in a happy trance! Apparently, they will eventually be uploading a recording of the night’s show here:

But I think that perhaps the site should be called “Played Last Week”. They are pretty behind right now!

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