Not an illusion of bliss

Sarah McLachlan is not happy lately. My presumptuousness is embarrassing but I would bet on her not being suicidal or raging either. It was wrong to assume that she’s happy on the basis of Loving You Is Easy or on the cover of her new, Laws of Illusion. Not until you read through the liner notes of the CD will you find out about her new drummer, Tori Amos’ very own, Matt Chamberlain, who replaces her long-time drummer and now ex-husband Ashwin Sood whom I’ve always had mixed feelings about because inspect the backstage footage of Afterglow Live and you can sense, in a footage where Sood talks to a bunch of girls ostensibly about how they feel about Sarah and her concert, that there’s an unmistakable flirty vibe in the way he talks to them, the Sarah McLachlan fans. Sarah McLachlan is not frequently featured in the pages of Yahoo OMG, she’s not that type of celebrity, and so of course things as major as her divorce escapes public scrutiny and disdain, as if divorced celebrities is a novelty. She tweets too although it’s highly likely that it’s the record label that’s doing it for her, and only to say, often, that she’s playing at some small venue, at times at a Starbucks, no less, or at times at bigger ones such as wherever her Lilith Fair crew is currently playing. Other than what she means to spill about her life can only be surmised through her songs which is just as it should be.

To hear of her true feelings for Sood, dissect the lush ballad, among some other pretty things in Laws, Forgiveness, where she rips Sood to pieces, but still ever so gently, by piano, by addressing the ‘loving lying enemy’ with a heartbreaking mix of longing and vindictiveness. This lying,  loving enemy, she’s seen its face before but didn’t want to anymore, but she remembers its ‘loving eyes and the moonlit kiss, the evening lullabies’ that, as this is the most beautiful song in here, it’s become evident that she hasn’t quite let go of these blissful things just yet, and these are things, kisses, midday calls, etc, that she will truly miss. But alas, she will never give him forgiveness which is so, so sad. It’s the kind of sad like when you felt like weeping at certain scenes in Boys Don’t Cry just because Hilary Swank’s face is on and her face is so depressing even when she isn’t saying anything.

Before she sets Ashwin Sood to endless days of remorse, she frolics, or, her term, awashes herself in illusions of bliss, in songs like Illusions of Bliss, gets really illusory in Loving You is Easy, screaming ‘I get so high!’ ‘Shot like a starburst!” which is the closest she gets to sounding like a crazy, a rare treat considering she’s always been usually melancholic and discreetly angsty which have always been concealed under her gentle piano playing.

I don’t know how significant it is that her new drummer is also Tori’s, but just the thought of the possibilities is exciting. While it’s thrilling to fantasize that the two might duet, or just be in the same room together,  I don’t think the idea will come from the drummer (no offense meant to creative drummers). Not that that’s urgent. They’re fine on their own, even if in McLachlan’s case, long-time collaborator Pierre Marchand’s still doing much of the production, doing great things to otherwise usual Sarah McLachlan songs, which are basically songs that will get played in movie or TV scenes that usually signify the emotional crux of the story, songs that will get heavy blogger emoting-through-music posts, songs like Angel which a decade after getting featured from the City of Angels soundtrack, many still find haunting and lovely, descriptions which have been consistently used by anyone who’s ever cared to talk about Sarah’s songs, songs like Love Come which crescendoes to a gorgeous ahhhh… ahhhh… ohhh, that’s become almost a signature, songs like that that no one does quite lovelier than she.

That Forgiveness is about Ashwin Sood is just conjecture of course, and it hardly matters who the song’s about or what it’s really about, but really, it’s about Sood, but it doesn’t matter eventually because it’s just as resonant and beautiful had it been about her dog. When Sarah McLachlan does this, sing about someone who’s wronged her, as opposed to occasions when she writes a plain, old love song, like Push which she wrote for Sood, you realize suddenly how horrible it must be to do someone harm which is such a simplistic realization but that also when you encounter these, songs like Forgiveness or its equivalent, say, when someone writes you a well-crafted, seriously thought and constructed letter/e-mail, that there’s no harm or pain that you wouldn’t trade for pain you wish you have instead, instead of being its inflicter. If I were Sood, I’d stay away from the radio forever, or I’ll just move to my homeland India where Sarah McLachlan wouldn’t get much radio airtime. But then a world without Sarah McLachlan songs, that’s impossible and unbearable, less aurally beautiful, maybe even if I were Ashwin Sood.

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