The poet Mary Oliver died this week. An irreplaceable loss that will go largely unnoticed. A woman devoid of the need to be known, let alone some kind of celebrity craving- she was a luminous voice of peace, nature, creativity, and smallness. Her humility was astounding. On the day she learned that she had received the Pulitzer Prize she was scrounging at the city dump for shingles with which to fix her roof. She wrote most of her poems while wandering around in her favorite bits of local wilderness- an act that filled and inspired her but also allowed her to forage for the berries, greens, and clams that were her almost daily diet. The poverty of poets has not been exaggerated.
A year ago today I released an album, ambitiously titled “Everything That Rises Must Converge”. The year between the days feels somehow so short, and yet so very, very long. High expectations and wild imaginations, silly ambitions now tempered by a little time and the accretion of disappointment, loss, and experience. Perspective. There is a certain perspective that plays through Mary Oliver’s work. A humanity that sees itself with eyes wide open, a humanity that knows both it’s great smallness and it’s small greatness. Neither self-aggrandizing, nor self-deprecating. Perspective.
I borrowed one of Mary Oliver’s most famous lines for the opening of the song “Fragments”. “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?”. That question continues to inspire and haunt me, as I hope it inspires and haunts you. Some days it’s a finger pointed in accusation or wagged in rebuke, others it is crooked in invitation beckoning me to some hopeful unknown.
Friends I’m grateful for your kind support throughout the last year. This next statement sounds like some kind of a riddle, but it’s not- it’s the collection of a years worth of perspective: It means so much to me that these songs have meant something to the people that mean something to me.
Alright, that’s about it. One piece of news while I have you, this week we’re shooting a video of a new song that we’ll release on Valentines Day. It’s called “While It Lasts” and I wrote it about my Pop, which means it will fall somewhere in the continuum of “Bittersweet” to “Completely Depressing”. I swear I’ll write a happy song some day real soon.
One final final thing: I’m somewhat ashamed of this, but I’m actually in possession of an Instagram account now. I’ll post a few pictures of the recording process and let folks know about the video release over there, so if these long weird emails aren’t your style (shame on you), you can follow me at @danejoneshill.
All the best, Dane