I came across Joseph Arthur a year or so ago I think, through another blog no doubt, although I can’t for the life of me pinpoint which one. His song ‘Speed Of Light’ is what first caught my ear and whenever it pops up unexpectedly I always cease whatever I’m doing and listen, transfixed, until the song is over. It’s such a wistful kind of song and every time I hear it I’m filled with sadness. Lots of music makes me feel sad, but it’s usually a good kind of sad, if you know what I mean. It’s hard to describe, but sometimes words and melodies combine to create something that either resonates so perfectly with me, or so perfectly captures a moment or feeling that it’s almost too beautiful to bear, and therefore makes me sad.
It’s the same feeling I get when I stand inside a cathedral. I’m not religious, but every time I enter a cathedral I’m overcome with this weird combination of calm and sadness. I think it’s got something to do with the time and effort that it took to create such a building. I know that many cathedrals were built using the time and labour of unwilling participants, and that the building process would’ve been horrific in so many ways, but the fact that they are still standing, unwavering and unmoved, is magical to me. Nobody builds like that any more. (Obviously there are reasons for this – forced labour is no longer permitted being one of them – but nobody even thinks in those terms any more. We are such an impatient I-want-it-now society these days that even considering such a project would be viewed as sheer lunacy). The fact that nothing we build today comes even close to this grandeur and beauty is what makes me sad I think. On the other hand, the beauty of these buildings is also what brings about the calm I mentioned earlier. It’s something to do with their symmetry and their height. For me, their power is in their aesthetics, their strength and stability.
Back to the music….
Joseph Arthur is one of those enviably creative folk who are all things all at once – in his case, musician, poet and artist. I’ve only delved into his musical side so far, but I love his lyrics so I imagine his poetry will turn out to be just as impressive.
I think this lyric in ‘Speed Of Light’ perfectly captures all I’ve found him to be so far – wistful and pensive.
and if you hate your life, just remember that there used to be a time when we could not feel a thing
He too understands that feeling sadness is better than feeling nothing at all.
You can also visit Joseph’s website for tour info, downloads, poetry and more.
(image via muzzleofbees)