Re: A true Renaissance woman

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Posted by HSG on May 02, 2005 at 22:16:30:

In Reply to: Re: A true Renaissance woman posted by Emily on May 02, 2005 at 01:43:55:

During our telephone interview, Barbara spoke very softly, so we expected her singing voice to be equally subtle. But Barbara's singing voice, while very sweet, is also clear and powerful, and very dramatic.

The moment in the song that particularly seizes listeners' hearts and leave them breathless is when Barbara repeats the last two lines of the chorus, "She is alive / She IS A-LI-VE / She is alive," with such insistence. It is a compelling statement of her unshakable belief in her own words--and yet, she sings the lines with a crystalline beauty of tone.

After listening to the song several times, one becomes increasingly aware of Barbara's dramatic imagery. Her comparisons to the air, the stars, the waves, all communicate the magnitude and intensity of her feelings, and her conviction that her friend is immanent in the natural world around her.

But then, one makes an even deeper realization about the imagery in the chorus. Barbara specifically identifies her friend with a certain aspect of nature--i.e,, nature in motion, nature that is visibly active, moving, indeed alive rather than still. It's not just the quiet air in which she feels that her friend is present, but in "the air that I breathe." Not just the stars, but "the shootin' stars." Not the still waters, but the "waves that break / Right through my heart."

And then, in the softer, more elegiac vocals of the bridge, she sings about the quieter aspects of nature--the snow, the sun, the rain. The contrast between the reflectiveness of the bridge, and the resolve of that powerful chorus, is quite striking.

Note also how the certainty of her friend's existence all around her rejuvenates the singer. First, she characterizes her grief by singing that her "heart is swept away / By the news of her / Movin' on." And then, in the powerful chorus which follows, she sings that "She's in the waves that break / Right through my heart"--as if the realization of her friend's continued presence is cleansing her heart of the grief that "swept [it] away," just a moment ago.

Another line that is particularly moving is, "She's the rain in the tears / We are shedding today." This turns a well-known metaphor of despair into a metaphor of hope. Writers have long used the metaphor of tears being washed away in the rain as an existential symbol of an uncaring, indifferent universe. But Barbara turns that metaphor around, and indicates that it is precisely in the rain itself that her friend's existence can be felt. And again, like the waves cleansing her grief-laden heart, the rain (her friend's ever-present spirit) washes away the tears (the despair).

We remain deeply honoured that Barbara chose to share this song with us. It is so personal, so powerful, and so beautiful. We commiserate with Barbara on the loss of her friend, but we hope she is comforted by the fact that, out of that sadness, she has fashioned a song which will be a source of solace to many who have faced similar grief.

Barbara modelling a curve-adoring dress at Nordstrom, Summer 2005:

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