→ Dane Tucquet
Each morning dead poets bring me back to life.
Like a soft kiss to the eyelids, or a cool breeze in the middle of February, the ethereal voices of Townes Van Zandt, Chris Whitley and Nick Drake are my welcome relief from the shock of waking up. When the opening chords of ‘Colorado Girl’ tumble from a tiny speaker in my tiny phone, it has nothing to do with an alarm. That beautiful, gentle sound is a bridge between different worlds.
One of those worlds is Nashville, Tennessee in 1969, where the sound of Townes’s fingers plucking notes on guitar strings caused a vibration in the air, converted by microphone ribbon into an electrical signal and then imprinted onto tape.
Townes travels on guitar strings from 1969. And I meet him where I sleep and often dream, somewhere in that other world. On Townes’s humble tune I am transported along the bridge, from the dreams I will soon forget, back to the reality I have created.
I love waking to these dead poets.
Because I have woken in fright before, woken to jagged alarms and tearing lawn-mowers. Been snapped upright by angry voices in slamming kitchens. Beaten out of bed to the mad humming of relentless, crowded streets.
And once you wake that way, it’s hard to get back the groove of that gentle, faraway place, it’s gone for another day. Hard to carry that dream with you out into the morning. Being unplugged, with no warning, causes too much feedback.
Give me a Place To Be. Give me a moment to figure out how to come back again and put these dreams to use.
Nudge me awake with ‘Accordingly’ and I’ll spend ten sweet seconds trying to decipher what is reality and what is a dream, while Chris’s dobro blurs the line even more. I will love that feeling. In that confusion, that out of time disorientation, I will feel vulnerable and close. Close to the bluebird in my heart. That is why these songs are perfect to wake up to. They kiss your eyelids awake. Blow cool breeze onto your fevered skin. And remind you that, yes, you exist in that other place, as well as here.
Roy Orbison sang about such relief with, ‘In Dreams'. The relief of visiting a state where our love stretches on a single sound, where we leap frog years with our heart beats and where all our futile, lumbering logic lifts, weightless as sea air.
Townes and Chris and Nick and Roy, these guys all know that place intimately. There are countless beautiful dreamers like them dreaming in many mediums. The art of their daily lives is to focus, laser-like, on touching some piece of dreamland. They softly remind us of the mystery, especially during those times when we’ve stopped dreaming, times when we need to be stirred from our slumber.
And then gently waking us to its mystery, when we stop dreaming, when we sleep too long.
Via chords and lyrics and rhythms; that’s how I like to wake, how I like to travel; to and from that place of unremembered dreams, deep and dormant in our souls, the ones we feel in our bones. Guitar strings and gentle ghosts. Cradled out of sleep on the sadness in their voices. Waking with the wonder in their hearts.
Waking to somebody else’s dream, helps keep my own alive. It connects me where I feel separate; it stills me while the world accelerates. And when I go to sleep, I’m often humming to the dead poets, already dreaming of their morning bell.
Their songs are poems, and poems are dreams, and dreams are what make life real.