Grace came home from a day of her second week of third grade with two announcements. The first was that this year she had Mrs. S for music, who also taught me, back in the dark ages. The second was that they were learning Joni Mitchell’s Circle Game. Whit, with his uncanny ability to suss out things that will pierce right to my heart, immediately took an interest. They spent a day or two learning the words, and I kept promising we’d listen to the recording (which of course I have).
Circle Game is up there with Landslide on the list of songs whose associations are so strong as to often overpower me. They are both songs that were a part of my own childhood, both songs whose lyrics grow ever more poignant as I grow up myself.
So the other afternoon we listened to Circle Game in my bedroom, dancing and singing along. We danced in a circle, holding hands, and Grace’s and Whit’s voices rang with Joni Mitchell’s. I tried to sing but was mostly crying so I could not. Several times I thought I should stop and take a picture, but I didn’t want to let go of their hands. Grace and Whit kept looking at me, emotion frank in their faces. It was a rare moment that I knew was becoming a memory even as I experienced it. For four minutes I said: be here, Lindsey. Don’t step out of the frame in order to photograph this. Just live it.
And I did. With tears streaming down my face and a little hand in each of mine and words as familiar as my own name ringing in my head and in my heart. I was there.
When the song ended, Whit flung himself onto the small Oriental rug on the floor and sighed, “I am already dragging my feet to slow the circles down, Mummy.” And he is. But wow, so am I. I am mostly frantic about and occasionally resigned to the rotation of the years. It occurred to me that Circle Game could well be an alternative title for the book I’m writing. Subtitle : captive on a carousel of time.
Are there songs that are laden with memories and emotion for you? Are there song lyrics that speak directly to your heart?