David Gray

July 11th, 2011

Long periods of my life are going un-blogged. How is the universe able to cope with this?

I went to see David Gray in concert.

I kind of think I need to get credit for discovering David Gray.  I know.  David Gray is probably because of me.  I hope the world appreciates the gifts I bring.

Back in 1995, I was about to burst with my first son, but yet was still refusing to wear maternity clothes.  This resulted in odd clown like get-ups that included high waisted short dresses of which the front hem-line was several inches above the back hemline due to my protruding belly.   I often paired these dresses with pale pink leggings that that looked like my flesh.  This scandalous ensemble caused more than one horrified double take in the grocery store.  In subsequent pregnancies I succumbed to maternity clothes in the first trimester.

One day while strolling through Wal-mart in my pink flesh leggings and mini dress that just covered my ‘vital areas’ the CD surprised me with two tickets to see Shawn Colvin in Columbia Missouri. (Yes, I also discovered Shawn Colvin, but will not overburden your probably already exploding mind with that story.)   Guess who the opening act for Shawn Colvin was?  David Gray!  He sauntered out on stage with a drummer. The drummer sat down on a darkened stage, twiddled with his drums for a few seconds while David strapped on his guitar. Then David looked at the drummer and the drummer leaned over and pulled the string on a fringed lamp that was beside him.  Click.  A small pool of light flooded the two musicians and they began to play. David Gray’s head bobbled rhythmically as his creaky, nasal brogue filled the theater above a guitar driven dirge. And over the top of this strange and soulful mix, floated lyrics with a dark, sardonic, literary bent. I instantly became a die hard fan.

Fast forward five years. I am sitting in a parking lot at a school waiting for the bell to ring signalling that school is out for my kindergartner. There is a toddler and an infant sharing this space with me. I am covered in dried breast milk and cheerio crumbs.   The smell of a rancid sippy cup hidden somewhere in the depths of my car wafts around us. The baby is going to explode in sleepy/hunger/fury at any second and I can’t find the emergency pacifier. Why doesn’t the damn bell ring?

When suddenly!

A familiar Welsh voice bleats out from the car radio breaking the toddler trance in which I live.

It’s David Gray

He’s singing Babylon.

He is on the radio!

The radio!

David Gray is on the RADIO!

The rare artist who stays true to himself and yet transcends pop culture. I wept with joy and smiled for days.  A sardonic skip with a literary bent settled inside my step.

If you want it
Come and get it
Crying out loud
The love that I was
Giving you was
Never in doubt
Let go your heart
Let go your head
And feel it now

Babylon, Babylon

I love the play on words with Babylon and babble on.  Pure genius.

My favorite David Gray tune is Alibi. It’s like a stun gun.  I can’t move until it is over.

Stone blind alibi
I will eat the lie
Find the word
Could break any spell that binds you
Prayers like ammonites
Curl beneath the lights
How I long to
Bite every hand that feeds you more
Where d’it all go wrong
My friday night enfant
Where d’it all go wrong
My friday night enfant

I love that he references Ammonites.

But my favorite David Gray lyrics???

Why that would be New Horizons.

The lyrics kill me every time.

Weight on my shoulders
But I’m walking so tall
Out into the new horizon
Wonder in everything
No matter how great or small
Howlin’ like the midnight
Howlin’ like the midnight sun
And this ain’t no pale reflection
This is the real thing
New horizon
New horizon within

And your heart ain’t yours to control
No matter how tight the reigns
Love will find it’s own direction
A time to reap, a time to sow
And many a time to cry in vain
But now the time to celebrate
The glory of this imperfection
Same thing that’s scrawled across the stars
Is written under our skin
New horizon
New horizon within

Things come too easy, I get suspicious
Things come too slow, I get bored
If it don’t work out I get superstitious
But if it does, oh my word

So I’m gathering all the remnants of beauty
From this wilderness in spin
And now I’m gonna light my own flame
’cause I’m charged with the radiance of the dawn
That’s been so long breaking
Now there ain’t nowhere
There ain’t nowhere I won’t write your name
There’s a time to search for understanding
Sometime you just gotta sing
New horizon
New horizon within

Baby there’s no need to get precious
When you know that everything must change
Complacency, it can be so vicious
Turn this love into a cage

Same thing that’s scrawled across the stars
Is written under our skin
New horizon
New horizon within

These lines….
I think of them often.

Same thing that’s scrawled across the stars
Is written under our skin

David Gray really is a poet first.  The music is merely a gateway drug.

Prior to the concert, I had dinner with Mike and Liz and then the three of us went to the concert together. It was a fabulous night.

Good company, good music, good conversation.

What more is there?


Comments

  • Mary Beth G.:

    First-time commenter, long-time lurker ;-} If there is anyone that can make me come out into the light, it is David Gray. I have a HUGE musical crush on hime, and have for years. I saw him in Boston at the beginning of this tour (similar floor lamp and area rug), and he was phenomenal. So understated, so unemcumbered by studio arrangements. And that voice….wow, absolutely amazing. You have good taste, in many things. Thanks for reminding me of a sublime evening.

  • Shelley:

    Love David Gray! Thank you for discovering him! My husband & I chose “This Year’s Love” as our song to first dance to @ our wedding :)

  • Melissa:

    A very long time ago I found your blog because you wrote that you liked Betty MacDonald, and there are so few us it seemed that appreciate her (it seemed) and now you mention David Gray–when for YEARS I thought I was the only one who listened to Babylon & New Horizons over and over. I am a good deal older than you Rechelle, but I think we maybe we should have been friends.

    • Rechelle:

      Let’s be friends Melissa! Come over! We’ll talk Betty and David and drink tea and champagne.

  • annmarie:

    After I had my third child in Nov of 2000 I grew depressed. It was cold and miserable and snowy in Burlington, Vermont ( where we lived at the time). I had 3 kids under the age of four and I truly thought I was going to lose my mind. My husband came home every evening to find me close to tears or fully in tears and he’d hand me the keys to the car. I would get in and drive around for at least an hour listening to White Ladder…Babylon was my favorite song. For just a few minutes while that song was playing I believed things would be okay and that thought would help get me back home to my family. He got me through a very bleak time in my life – wish I could tell him. Glad you got to see him.

    • Rechelle:

      Annmarie – if you ever get the chance – go see him. He is a wonderful performer. The audience knew so many of his songs and sang with him. It felt like we all understood each other in a strange way.

  • km:

    I wonder if you’d like The Waterboys. They were the soundtrack to my best days:)

  • Just Courtney:

    Wow! Thank you. I stumbled upon David Gray, Babylon when Napster was new on the scene (2001 ish?). Have always loved it, but never took the time to go deeper. Thank you very much for the recommendations – this is on my to-do-within the next month list; cause I’m going to need it. Great stories all, thank you for sharing too.
    Rechelle, you really rock.

  • theresa:

    Thank you for discovering him! I “discovered” some of my favorite performers while they were warm up band/opening act for another band. Robyn Hitchcock was warm up for REM, Matthew Sweet for Indigo Girls. Now, I prefer Robyn Hitchcock to REM and Matthew Sweet is my favorite artist ever. Funny how that goes. Anyway, I’m glad you have been enjoying your summer. I had hoped that was the case when your blog slowed down.

  • Jennifer:

    I will have to seek out his music–those lyrics are great.

    Those two lines you quote “Same thing that’s scrawled across the stars Is written under our skin” would make a good tattoo. I don’t have tattoo’s, but I see a LOT of them on my tumblr feed.

  • poppy:

    Well, I discovered Andrew Bird. I think you might find him totally acceptable :)

    • carrie:

      Love Andrew Bird! He is amazing!!

  • Liz:

    Rechelle, so glad you came with us. I too have been a DG fan since I very first heard him whilst driving around the horrificly dull suburbs of Kansas City one afternoon in my beaten up blue Nissan Sentra during the time I was still trying to cope with living here. Then comes this haunting yet tuneful song on the radio “Babylon”. Had no idea what it was on about but has to be the best song I’ve ever liked so instantly. From then on I was a die hard fan. I can resonate with your previous reader. I too, would reach really low moments of dire homesickness and at those times play all my David Gray albums one after another and the utter sadness of his tunes would be enough to snap me out of my own.

    However, I cannot claim I discovered him – damn – you’re always one up on me.

  • Clay:

    Who has eyes that can see all the things you could be, who has ears for the sweetest refrain.

    Why do we hear things so differently? I can’t find the things you see in David Gray’s songs. I wish I had that capacity. But I am just as avid for things that few other people value. I love Tom Waits, but have to go to You Tube to find anyone else who does. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to feel that perfect joy for the whole range of musical expression, whether it would signify the completed person.

  • I have never heard of David Gray. I’m going straight to YouTube to check him out.

    Thanks R.,

    BR

  • Birdie:

    Oh, yes, David Gray. I’ve loved him since I was in college. Tidal Wave is my favourite song of his as it reminds me of the time when I first met my husband. Such beautiful lyrics:

    Ever since your fingertips
    Ever since your eyes
    Talking with the light on
    Bluer skies

    Even if I wanted to, how could I explain
    Coming through my head now this tidal wave?

    All you favourite eyelashes
    All your bluest skin
    Bring them and I’ll meet you
    In that room again

    Even if I wanted to, how could I explain
    Coming through my head now this tidal wave?

    Coming over Waterloo
    Dreaming of your hands
    Want to run away now
    To foreign lands

    Even if I wanted to, how could I explain
    Coming through my head now this tidal wave?

    • Birdie:

      Blargh. I messed up the choruses! Forgive me, David! :)

      Ever since your fingertips
      Ever since your eyes
      Talking with the light on
      Bluer skies

      Even if I wanted to, how could I explain
      Coming through my head now this tidal wave?

      All your favourite eyelashes
      All your bluest skin
      Bring them and I’ll meet you
      In that room again

      Even if I told it true, how could they believe
      Coming through my head now this tidal wave?

      Coming over Waterloo
      Dreaming of your hands
      Want to run away now
      To foreign lands

      Even as I lie with you, listen to you breathe
      Coming through my head, yeah, this tidal wave.

  • Rechelle

    I am sure that you have heard of regresty and I have been wanting to bring it to your attention, but I was waiting for the perfect post and i wound it. It is Completely Safe for Only You. but it should be at the top of the page, if not turn left, scroll down until you see the afterbirth.

    http://www.regretsy.com/page/2/

    The website makes me laugh so much. The writer possess a whip lash wit. She cracks me up and I think that you may enjoy. I am hesitant to ever recommend a blog to you because I think your sense of humor is more refined than mine. It is just different. I would like to hear your thoughts about the site. Wait was this one of the books on your Christmas gift ideas post?

    I am going to email PIe Near Woman the ideas that I have written down for her christmas list. I understand it is summer, but I spend a long time on my hammock, drinking too much coffee and I found it very entertaining to come up with Pie Near Woman skits. Hopefully, you might be able to use on of them or I just spent a good chunk of time writing Pie Near Woman fanfic (fan fiction), and I am not ready to become on of those people. I wear my nerd flag high, but fanfic is a whole other beast.

  • Northern Sky by Nick Drake is also a great one to discover too.

  • Catherine:

    Yes to David Gray. Have you heard Lisa Hannigan? She used to sing with him and has struck out on her own. I also love Shawn Colvin. Check out some of Jennifer Warnes early stuff like Shot Through the Heart if you like Shawn Colvin. Worth checking out Josh Rouse’s early stuff as well. He moved to Spain and became a bit deranged I think. Must be the sun.

  • Laurel Lou:

    When my husband and I were dating, we heard David Gray on t he local NPR station on our way to breakfast. The DJ announced it was David Gray. We were both making a mental note to follow up on this David Gray dude.. Later on, over coffee, we were reading the local weekly and learned that David Gray would be in concert the following evening. The future husband whipped out his plain little Nokia phone and bought tickets right there.

    The concert was in a little venue. David Gray, his guitar, and 198 other people. We bought White Ladder and that CD became the soundtrack to our budding love.

    11 years later and I cannot hear David Gray and not fall in love all over again.