Songs to Get Through a Pandemic, #14, Ruby Falls

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To be honest, I don’t know if this one gets you through, or if it pulls you down. It’s the remembrance of Katie Crutchfield, who records as Waxahatchee, of a friend who died of a heroin overdose. She calls this “my song for all people who struggle with that kind of thing.” It’s a beautiful song, and aren’t we all struggling with grief and loss this past year? If we’re lucky, it’s a wanting for purpose, the disconnection from those we love, the desire to make new connections, the realizations and the hopelessness. If we’re unlucky, it’s a person we’re missing. This song hits me right there, and deeper—and because it helps me to name this feeling and this time, it’s a blessing.

A friend posted a pandemic-themed playlist today titled To Make Some Sense of What You’ve Seen, we have a sizable shared space in the Venn diagram of our musical interests (though his is far larger) and the only song shared between his list and mine is this one. That seems unlikely and inevitable.

The gutting turn in Ruby Falls for me is when Crutchfield sings:

Real love don’t follow a straight line
It breaks your neck, it builds you a delicate shrine

Earlier this weekend a friend shared her reflections on everything that had happened in the past year—she lost her mom, she became a grandma, she read 60 books and watched Tiger King, turned 60 and headed into a fourth decade of marriage. At the end she said she drew strength from this from Ralph Waldo Emerson.

What lies before us and behind us is nothing compared to what lies within us.

I’m a Unitarian Universalist and Emerson is one of our north stars. And yet, I don’t think Emerson offers us much in this moment. (I’ve felt like this before.) I wrote back:

Not to argue with Emerson, but the most important thing for me is what lies BETWEEN us. It’s also the thing that has been hardest living in distanced times. Life doesn’t stop, just our ability to connect about it. It’s why it’s been worth it to me to take some modest risks to grab lunch with [her husband/my friend]. Hoping that as the days get longer, and the vaccine gets into more people’s arms, that we all start the Great Re-Connecting. I’m looking forward to it beyond words.

Because I don’t think we can survive this alone. We need each other. And I so appreciated my minister Rev. Lee Paczulla’s message this morning that as we begin to move beyond this awful moment, we forget it at our peril. If you have 20 minutes, scroll 17:30 into the recording of the service.

The clear-eyed world we step into next. The aching friendship that Crutchfield writes about in Ruby Falls. The resilience of return. These are why I hope. These are why I persevere. May we turn toward this new life remembering the imprint of these past 12 months. May we once again reconnect with our loved ones and make new friends, who charm us, love us, and break our hearts.

Full lyrics

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