“So far away from me” Songs for International Adventurers

It’s rare that I get a case of actual acute homesickness. The concept of “home” tends to float around with me, I try my hardest to adapt to how different countries do things. I look for the positives in everything.

But there does come times when I feel like I’m in the wrong damn country. Usually when:

1. My friends have posted all over Facebook their photos & updates about a country-specific special event that looks so enjoyably awesome. AND I MISSED IT.

2. After a stressful/tiring/busy day I need to buy this one commodity and (a) all the shops are shut already (b) none of the shops actually have said item. But you can buy it 24/7 on every street corner in my last country.

3. We’re having an extended bout of dreadfully cold weather whilst everybody else on Facebook is posting bikini shots.

***

Music has the power of expressing myself better than *I* ever could. There exist a handful of songs that could be called part of the Definite Soundtrack Of My Life which address these feelings of being somehow in the wrong place.

Bright Lights” Matchbox 20

His girlfriend moves to the big city (New York), attracted by the promise of fame and the magic of those “bright lights”. The heartbroken and bereft singer begs her to return when…if…the spell is broken. I feel like a combination of the protagonist and the subject: at once left behind (“I got a hole in me now, yeah I’ve got a scar I can talk about”) and seduced by those bright lights (“Let that city take you in, let that city spit you out, let that city take you down…”), never quite sure if I’m going to stay or leave (“Maybe, maybe, maybe you’ll find something that’s enough to keep you…”).

I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues” Elton John

This song almost certainly contains the most powerful declaration of love I’ve ever heard: “I simply love you, more than I love life itself.” Despite suffering from the blues, the singer focusses on the joy of when they’ll be reunited once more (“And it won’t be long, before you and me run to the place in our hearts where we hide…”) and trying to keep positive and strong (“Don’t wish it away, don’t look at it like its forever…”). I tend to think of Philadelphia when I think of this song, mainly because that’s the city when Swann Memorial Fountain is located, which as far as I’m concerned is the centre of the universe (see previous blog post).

So Far Away” Dire Straits

The lyrical detail in a Dire Straits song is what makes them so appealing to me. The magnitude of the distance separating two individuals is perfectly captured in all its frustrating intricacy (“And where are you when the sun goes down? You’re so far away from me. So far away from me – so far I just can’t see…”). The singer is weary and endlessly thwarted, constantly repeating “I’m tired of…” “and I get so tired when I have to explain”. He’s stuck “again in this mean old town”, left metaphorically “in the rain” by absence. It does get tiring, yknow. The tiredness and the frustration does make your surroundings lose their lustre.

Rhythm of My Heart” Rod Stewart

If only for that one line: “Photographs and kerosene/ Light up my darkness (light it up light it up)”. The photographs that I own of my friends, countries and adventures are some of my most prized possessions. Memories get fuzzy; a photograph never loses its clarity. A photograph doesn’t lie or decieve me. It rarely gets its meaning twisted when I’m feeling down. Without photographs – and Rod’s reminder – it would be a lot harder-going…

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