Song Effusive Episode 1 – When You’re Sleeping by Ancient Elk
Friday, April 10, 2015
By Cherie Rae Cobbs
I’m listening to Ancient Elk’s beautiful song “When You’re Sleeping” and I’m removed, transported, reminded, of moments, feelings and experiences long lost to my aged, modern mind. Ten seconds into the pool of this tune and I’m whisked away to the heavy, humid of a late Minnesota summer in 1984 when I’d inherited a cumbersome, uninspired, dark brown 3-speed bicycle. Little girlfriends and friends of little girlfriends have pretty Huffy’s with banana seats in shades of gumballs adorned with glitter stickers but alas, in a rush of independence (or maybe to outrun the shame of my homely ride) I mount the hefty, 3-speed and labor my way up the big, big hill all the while that brilliant bluesy guitar engages and imbues only to calm before that voice awakens.
Anna Smith opens with “I’m with you…”. And here she is me and I am her, and she says what I want and what I feel, and she encourages me to move forward, onward and ahead. In this space she is perhaps explaining a quiet litany of concerns and obstacles before bubbling them up to the surface in the perfect state of tension before a careful confidence and power afforded by the refrain of “la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la’s” which serve to dismiss these struggles, to release the self-imposed shame and the grief of my preadolescence concern.
I am then alerted, encouraged. I am motivated and challenged, I see myself as I was then and feel the same push, “when you’re sleeping, when you’re sleeping…” I pedal, I awaken muscle unbeknownst to my skinny ten year old legs, and I move and strain and let my worries slip away one downstroke then upstroke at a time. Up, up and up I climb with the promise of a free fall leading the way.
In the end, the ride down proves dangerous, too fast, my handlebars shake, my heart races out of my chest and houses blur in watercolors, before I spill my body and bike out onto the hot, summer pavement. My knee is skinned, my elbows bruise, and I’m thoroughly stunned but better off.
I’m not afraid and I’m not alone either.