Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Two-Track Tuesday: Ancient Heart

It was the summer of ’89, while working at the General Cinema in south Arlington, that I discovered Tanita Tikaram. Because of my weekly pay, I was visiting music shops at least once a week to stockpile tapes and increase my already vast collection.

I had never even heard of her before. But there was something about the cover that spoke to me: the brown and green fonts, the sepia photo of her standing in an empty landscape, the scribbled drawings. I bought the tape and had no idea what I would hear after I popped it into my truck’s player.

It was smooth, with a strong country vibe, but with some heartbreaking lyricism that still mesmerizes my ears. Every song, including those I don’t care much for, contains some poetic nugget worth contemplating.

I’ve carried these songs on my back across the world. “I Love You,” “Valentine Heart,” and “Twist in my Sobriety” sometimes have bubbled up as I was walking a dark back road in some dusty country. When I was living in Ukraine, I bought her ’98 tape The Cappuccino Songs to try to recover from some of the damage suffered in that sad, sad country.

By then, even Tanita Tikaram could offer little assistance. She had, however, warned me all those years ago.

“The lie is the angel, it doesn’t exist.”

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