Songcraft | James Taylor’s Copperline


I love this song. After the New England winter, months and months of snow yield to a rain somehow colder. By the time the air is dappled with the perfume of the spring’s first blossoms the hope of thaw has been fully exorcised. I’ve been tormented for so long that such memories have become foreign. The smell of spring is beautiful, but surprising and elusive in its familiarity. What is this perfume? I remember it from somewhere, perhaps a different life or a dream. I pause, Oh yeah, I remember this now, this is lilac. It means the cruel winter is finally releasing her grasp, and I can at last lower by guard. What was at one moment a glint on the horizon of memory becomes an all consuming flood. I remember lilacs, I remember the feel of grass underfoot, the sound of laughter by the beach, the smell of BBQ. I can FEEL it. The sun kissing my skin. It’s an unfolding. JT’s Copperline effects me the same way the soft spring air’s first trace of lilac does. The song, it too is an unfolding, and it’s deeply personal. I wonder if the significance is lost if you didn’t have the appropriate childhood. Specific songs speak to specific people.

There is something magic about the time and place you happily spend your childhood. The memories are especially sweet if you move away before you get too old. Once you’ve grown up and learned about the traffic and the bill paying of a particular area, the place loses a bit of wonder. The first bit of my mostly happy childhood was rather country-mouse. Since my family moved before I grew up, I never really learned what an adult life in the country was all about, and from what I hear it’s a lot of work.

I’d say the country childhood is the best type of life for a child, but I am rather biased. Empirically, there are some things best for adult perspectives, and I’d argue the inverse is true as well. I’d say one of the best things seen from the perspective of a child is the wonder of a country pond froze over for the winter, ripe for ice-skating. Or going horseback through the trails with an imagination lost dreaming about dragons, quests, and adventures. Slightly less epic, but certainly as magical is the experience of catching fireflies barefoot sprinting across wild meadow grass. It’s for falling into childhood memories like these, that I love this song. Every relisten beckons with a fresh journey. What started as a glint on the horizon, becomes an all consuming flood. It’s an unfolding.

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