Atwater-Donnelly

Newsletter

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1994
PROBLEM WITH WORDS

Our new recording is almost completed. The songs are a collection of mostly Appalachian and Celtic ballads and tunes, with a Shaker hymn thrown in for good measure, as well as a couple of songs that I've written.

First let me say that I prefer to write without the added pressure of creating a melody; but many of you asked for original contributions from me, so I'm happy to oblige. I thought I'd explain "Problem with Words." It's important for me to let you know that it started as a song about two very close friends, one of whom dies or leaves. The friends could have been same or opposite gender--that wasn't my primary concern. It's a love song; so, in my heart, that includes everyone. Although, when Aubrey and I perform it, the song begins to sound like it was meant for a boy-girl relationship.

It is also important to know that one friend either died of a degenerative illness, such as AIDS or cancer, or they got unintentionally separated by circumstance. With that information, one can begin to understand that this couple was very much in love. Now that the other has gone, the one who remains, the one who has always had a difficult time with expression, is filled with great anguish and is trying desperately to validate feelings.

It is obvious that this person enjoyed the kinds of attention gotten from the bygone friend, i.e., "poking at fun" over attempted singing, and "tactful and polite" when considering the prose. When the departed friend's verse comes in, it isn't a verse that the remaining friend can really hear, which might explain why the singing overlaps. In the end, our narrator is resolved to pining while unaware that the friend will "always be close at hand." Our friend doesn't require therapy; rather, he or she is simply in mourning until the "sorrow" subsides.

Elwood


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