Dienstag, 28. Oktober 2008

Ani in Amsterdam - the best yet!

It sometimes feels like ani difranco and I have grown up together. We are about the same age and she (well, ok, her songs) have been part of my life since I was 18. Since then, there has been a continuing, if somewhat one-sided ..., conversation with chunks of Ani´s lyrics being associated with chunks of my personal history. Somehow our lives seemed to (more or less) run in parallel, personally and politically. She sang about the break up of her marriage just as I was going through a big and painful break up myself. And now that I am preparing to be a daddy, she sings about being and becoming a mum. Beautiful lyrics such as these, I would love to sing (if I could ...) to our little rebel while she is still disguising herself as a large and growing tummy: "you're gonna love this world/ if it's the last thing i do/ the whole extravagant joke/ topped in bitter sweet chocolate goo/ for someone who ain't even here yet/ look how much the world loves you." Ani can still rant and did so beautifully at the Paradiso in Amsterdam last night (dedicating the ranting to the late Utah Phillips). She dedicated one of my all time favourite poems - Coming Up - to everyone working on Barack Obama´s campaign. Read it and you may see why:

our father who art in a penthouse
sits in his 37th floor suite
and swivels to gaze down
at the city he made me in
he allows me to stand and
solicit graffiti until
he needs the land i stand on
in my darkened threshold
am pawing through my pockets
the receipts, the bus schedules
the matchbook phone numbers
the urgent napkin poems
all of which laundering has rendered
pulpy and strange
loose change and a key
ask me
go ahead, ask me if i care
i got the answer here
i wrote it down somewhere
i just gotta find it
i just gotta find it

somebody and their spray paint got too close
somebody came on too heavy
now look at me made ugly
by the drooling letters
i was better off alone
ain't that the way it is
they don't know the first thing
but you don't know that
until they take the first swing
my fingers are red and swollen from the cold
i'm getting bold in my old age
so go ahead, try the door
it doesn't matter anymore
i know the weak hearted are strong willed
and we are being kept alive
until we're killed
he's up there the ice
is clinking in his glass
he sends me little pieces of paper
i don't ask
i just empty my pockets and wait
it's not fate
it's just circumstance
i don't fool myself with romance
i just live
phone number to phone number
dusting them against my thighs
in the warmth of my pockets
which whisper history incessantly
asking me
where were you

i lower my eyes
wishing i could cry more
and care less,
yes it's true,
i was trying to love someone again,
i was caught caring,
bearing weight

but i love this city, this state
this country is too large
and whoever's in charge up there
had better take the elevator down
and put more than change in our cup
or else we
are coming

Aside from her powerful lyrics, what I love about Ani is that she is a true musician. She is constantly experimenting, enjoying the act of creating (she sang three songs I had never heard before last night .... Given that I have all her albums, that is saying something ...). She is capable of filling a room with her voice and guitar (and amazing picking technique!). But at the same time, she loves playing with ever changing band set ups. So, for the record, the concert last night was the best one I have heard (and I have heard at least 8). Here is one of the encores ... a beautiful tale of love entitled ´both hands´ (the video is from last night!). Enjoy:

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