Cowboy Junkies : Trinity Sessions (1988)

Trinity Sessions is one of those albums that are not attached to a particular year or event; it is more fluid to me than that, meaning different things at different moments in my life, attaching more to feelings and interactions with people, then anything as stationed as time or place. One song played reminds me of both a fleeting, one that got away love on one listen, a particular early morning sunrise on another listen, and a newborn baby held close in my arms on yet a third play. These songs, some of them live and breathe within the construct of who I am, and evolve in meaning as I grow and change.

Recently I heard a track off of this album and I found myself feeling dizzy and light on my feet. There was something in the song playing that seemed to lift me out of myself momentarily, spinning me about in memory and an overwhelming rush of emotion. The closest I can come to explaining it would be how I picture the sudden memory recall of something long forgotten, or of a past existence, as they portray such remembrances in film and literature. I felt momentarily transfixed, hypnotically drawn in to the personal history that had long ago sewn itself into the song. That kind of reaction is almost otherworldly, and truly remarkable. It is the kind of response that only music can provide to me, ever.

So, without further ado, I will push play on the Trinity Sessions album, and let the music do its thing with me. Following will be my three sentence reflections of each song from the album, and how I respond to these songs today:

Mining for Gold

A slow and stark beginning to an album, short and penetrating, just a voice in what feels like the darkness of night, of isolation, of dread and hopelessness, cavernous like the inner depths of a mine. This song does not have any specific personal significance to me, but it does have an impact on me when I listen to it. Chilling and sad, on certain listens it can bring tears to my eyes, especially during that last line.

There is something about the song, and that line, that makes me think of times when I have chased after unattainable perceptions of beauty and perfection, taking self-destructive paths to try to reach some misguided goal, and the tiny deaths that those choices became.

Misguided Angel

My absolute favorite song on the album, song of the band’s, and high on my list of all-time favorite songs ever. This one slays me on a deep, soul-level, cutting through all surfaces and masked denials into the core of who I am. This song feels like so much of my life, ever loving the “wrong man“, ever making the choice that is often not agreed on, making mistakes and falling on my face, but picking myself up and persisting, ever believing (albeit often naively) that following my bliss is important in this life.

I have been loved and broken by those who are, and were, both devils and angels, and it has made me the person I am today, for best and worst of it all. I have no regrets on those I have loved, and of decisions made that were made out of love and my gut feelings, even if they ended up being the wrong roads to traverse upon. I have taken the slings and arrows of those who have judged me and kept going, with my head held high and my heart in place, as I ever and always will. I do not know how to live a life that is a lie, even if only I can understand the truths.

Blue Moon Revisted (Song For Elvis)

A delicious memory of a moonlit night Vegas, sitting close beside a boy in the middle of the night, our barefeet dangling in a now deserted pool. I do not remember if we were ever asked to leave, as I know we were there after hours. I do not recall us caring that we were tresspassers in the night. You leaned towards me to light my cigarette and kissed me instead, and for a moment, in that kiss, the night sky lit up bright enough to shame the neon of the Strip itself.

For a single stolen moment we out shone the full moon.

I Don’t Get It

A different memory, a different place and time, a different me and a different boy. I stood by him, defended him, tried to turn myself into a different girl for him, called myself his wife (briefly), and yet still he kept trying to mold me, change me, criticize me, cheat on me – ever and always making me believe that I was not enough. I could never understand why he was with me at all if I was something so lacking. I never understood, I never “got it“, I still do not, not at all.

I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry

An empty beach, cold air blowing as the tide came in closer to the sand, midnight, or perhaps much later, and the two of us sitting side-by-side on a lifeguard tower, silent and still, trying in our own way to save each other. We were both so terribly lonely. We were both so terribly lost. Chasing highs and hiding from the inevitable lows, there was a recognition of familiarity in each other’s eyes, a shared connection that did not ever need be defined.

Eventually we spoke, trading stories from what felt like a far off past, listening without comment to each other, eventually holding hands, as our histories repeated, surrounded by the visible fog that warm breath on late at night in December air creates. You were my twin soul, fallen angel, surivor of the war boy with the broken wing and I was your demon of redemption, every wishing and hoping for some fairy tale kind of end. We were the best of friends for a few months of time, leaving eventually when our shared truths became to hard to face up to in the harsh light of morning. At some point we had to make the choice to fall in love for fall away.

We chose the latter.

To Love is to Bury

I once knew some of your secrets. I once knew pieces of your soul. But now, as reaquainted strangers, I can see so many things that I cannot bear to say. There is so much pain in your eyes, and in your words, but who am I to ask why? If I spoke to you now on anything deeper than surface hello’s, well, I am quite terrified of what I would find. What I may uncover, in you, and within myself, I am not strong enough to face yet.

All of it was once dead and buried, or so I convinced myself to believe.

200 More Miles

My favorite version of this song is the one that Ryan Adams did, live with the Cowboy Junkies, when they did a revised/revisited version of the album. There is something about it, about the shared souls and emotions between Ryan and the band, that just does me in.

This song speaks to my gypsy soul and my wayward spirit, and the part of me that is always dreaming of the road, yet longing still for home and stability. Always and forever this heart of me is conflicted in such a way, dreaming of change and desiring staying still.

Dreaming My Dreams With You

Sometimes there are things that are easier to forget, and sometimes there are people that are impossible not to remember. They say those that come to us when our eyes first close, and dance with us in our dreams, are the ones we will never be able to truly let go of; the unforgettable ones, the ones that never really got away.

Working on a Building

Driving back from the desert in the middle of the night, my eyes burning and heavy with exhaustion, my mind twisting and turning the past 48-hours worth of time. My heart was pulling me one way, my head the complete opposite, and that part of me that is ever plagued with insecurity she was whispering loud enough to constitute a scream. I wanted to leave her there in the middle of nowhere, my insecurity, deserting her and forgetting her and shutting her up for once and for all; but she is far more persistent than I.

She followed along with me, singing now, her words embedding themself too deep inside of me, coloring my soon-to-be-made choices.

Sweet Jane

I would choose to give you up, and in that choice lose a part of me I would never regain. I was too afraid of breaking my heart by loving you. Thing is, it was too late for that, though I went with the decision regardless of how my heart split and fell into pieces.

I drove away without you, keeping you only with me in my dreams.

Postcard Blues

You found a box of postcards with a few photographs from that time tucked in-between. They were in the back of my side of the closet, tucked under a few sweaters that the weather never encouraged I wear. I was away at the time and you, well I suppose you were desperate for answers. You were searching for you in a box of memories that had nothing to do with you, and when I returned you threw them in my face. I had nothing at all to say.

All I wanted to do was turn around and leave again. All I wanted to do was run.

Walking After Midnight

In our first year of marriage we used to take long walks in the wee hours of the night, or of the morning, depending on your perception. We were both sleepless souls and we both felt more at home in those quiet, late hours. Looking back, it was on those walks that we had the best of conversations.

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