Iris DeMent video and small town thoughts

I rejoice in small town connections.

Just in the past week, I’ve seen or spoken with so many old friends, co-workers and acquaintances: a woman I did childcare with ten years ago, now a mother of three; an old friend who has been through tumultuous times, and from whom I was estranged for some time, but is now doing well; a fellow folk dancer from back in the days I was a contra dance junkie (Hi Tina!); someone who treated me with tender loving acupuncture some years ago; the list goes on.

All of these were chance encounters much more likely to happen in a small town.

So here’s to small towns, and on that note, I introduce you to a song celebrating a (presumably very small) hometown and mourning its demise: Our Town, by Iris DeMent.

I’ve seen Iris in concert a few times and was always too far away to see her very well. I could have sworn, a couple of times, that she was crying as she sang (did anyone else have this impression?). Whether she was or not, that’s how teary and plaintive her voice can sound. It’s great to see her expressive face up close in this video, and while I don’t detect any tears, there’s certainly plenty of emotion.

At any rate, I can hardly listen to the song without tearing up myself. I think that even if I’d never lived in a small town, I would still be affected. I grew up in Southern California in the small town of Laguna Beach; I still get sentimental remembering the sage-scented sandstone canyons inhabited by lizards, bats and hawks, and the eucalyptus-shaded neighborhoods with cooing doves. The song is about the loss of something familiar and dear, which must be a universal experience.

I hope you enjoy this touching ballad with sweet harmonies from Emmylou, who as usual is exquisitely attentive to her duet partner and exercises perfect timing.

Please watch below the fold. If you’d care to leave a comment, I’d love to know your impressions.

Iris DeMent with Emmylou Harris: Our Town