Sarah McLachlan, I’ve been told, has perfect pitch. Her performance at the opening ceremony was also pitch-perfect. She had me the very first time she flashed that smile of hers — bright as the sun, and open like a flower in full bloom. That may seem a superficial reason to for loving her as a conga player, but whatever it is that makes that smile so engrossingly attractive suffuses the music she writes as well. Soulful, a little impish, exuding the kind of soulful peace that makes you want to be in her presence. This stood out as the live performance of the ceremony, until another Canadian chanteuse arrived at the very end.
Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now accompanied the praire sequence, with the flying boy who ran through the wheat. I enjoyed this sequence, though we spent far too much time in close-ups of the boy in flight and, I’m guessing, missed much of the spectacle unfolding on the ground with the wheat projected there. (I still have the images of the Orcas in my mind from a previous sequence — how remarkable were the images of them swimming and spouting across the floor of BC place?)
I found this very old live recording — 1968! — of two favourite Mitchell songs. Both Sides Now and The Circle Game. These are songs about the cycle of life, the ups and downs, the round and rounds, “It’s love’s illusions I recall” and “We’re captive on the carousel of time. We can’t return, we can only look behind.”
Of course, the point is to look ahead rather than behind. And love’s illusions? Mmmmm…grasp the love you find while you have it, then carry it with you through the illusions, illusions of the present, illusions of the past.
The continuing popularity Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah enjoys is kinda stunning. It seems like everyone has covered it in the past couple years. I’ve written elsewhere that any able singer can make something of it, but nobody does it better than k.d. lang, and k.d. lang never sang it better than at the 2010 opening ceremony. Several people have commented to me that listening to it gave them goose bumps.
I can understand why. The soaring voice alone…well… But lang brings also an emotional commitment to Cohen’s words, and it’s this that sets her renditions apart.
The word hallelujah is intended to be an expression of ecstacy, of divine communication. But Cohen’s poem is about despair, betrayal, futility, and the hallelujah should be a cry, a shout, a lament to the illusions Joni Mitchell identifies in Both Sides Now. This is exactly the hallelujah lang delivers…thus, the goose bumps.
Hmmmm…. interesting choices, these songs of the opening ceremonies. Hmmmm… Well, ride the cycle round and round and recall Sarah’s opener:
That things work out after all
It’s just another
Ordinary miracle today