gossip in the grain

My life has changed–not so much that it’s unrecognizable, even if I am now in Texas, where they let us rock the vote early (which I just did). But it’s changed. I no longer find time to buy music CDs. Instead, when Ray Lamontagne’s third album hit stores, I hit the the ‘Buy Album’ button within my iTunes store. Except, that’s not exactly true. In the past (I’ve been following Ray since May 2004 and have the crappy photos of us to prove it), I’d have been anticipating his upcoming release and would have struggled with the cellophane sleeve the night before it was technically available. And now, I learn it’s in stores, randomly, picking my way through the Internet.

Dsc_0950_2 I’m now listening to the final track of the album, a song titled "You Are the Best Thing." It’s the kind of song I live for. The kind I can sing to, spin, and twirl to, with a bend at the knees. It’s a red wine of a song–a grand cru. It’s the kind of music that makes you think of storms, where you’re visiting some ailing aunt (yours or someone elses), and you’re stuck in a house you don’t know, but you’ve found a curtain of space on a screened in porch, and it’s somehow okay, even without anything to do. It’s the kind of music that makes you savor the smaller moments–the ones you think no one else really has.

Now, it’s not just a bottle of wine and a sofa with my bare feet kicked up, a shade of Bordeaux on my toes. It’s all that and more. Now it’s me on a sofa with a swirl of wine and a daughter with hair in her eyes and a pink hideous flower-shaped purse in the crook of her arm, clawing her way into my lap with a Junior Jellybean Book. I’m no longer listening to backup singers, but giggles in my ear and across the room. It’s not just wine in my hands. It’s hands on my face, and a nose rubbing against mine. It’s a picture book with a muppet holding a stop sign. And I couldn’t ask for more than this. This delicious soundtrack of my life.

Do you hear what I hear? Well, you can…



  1. This is a perfect song. So much so we've decided to dance to it as our first dance as husband and wife. Perfect capture.

  2. you're such a brilliant writer….this one especially illustrates why i love your writing so much. the way you describe everyday things and make them sound magnificent and then we realize they are magnificent.

    this post made me want to be a mother…right now…right away…except i don't even have someone to make babies with.
    ::::::::quickly goes to re-read Stephanie's last post for the billionth time today:::::

  3. My husband brought home a copy of his first album from a friend…we had never heard of him…and I couldn't, still can't, get enough. He's great. I like the original slow version of "Trouble" and love "Jolene"

  4. Oh how well I can relate to your "now" version of kicking back -minus the music here though. But for me it is with my two little grandchildren -the two most gorgeous little people in the world, who do the most amazing things some days. Most of all, in the amazing department, they have changed me from being a pretty hard-nosed, stubborn parent to an old softie grannie! Even taught me a little bit about patience in my dotage too! If there's anything better, the Good Lord has kept it for Him/Herself!

  5. I am seeing Ray live in exactly one week. My spins and twirls are already beginning to hum and jive in anticipation. And his ode to Meg White on the new album? I love it.

  6. I still think that the "Trouble" album will always be my favorite but "Gossip in the Grain" is excellent. Ray has an amazing range of emotions on this album. I love 'em all.

  7. This brings back memories of my daughter bring me the book, But No Elephants, to read for the 1,000th time. But, you do not mind, its music to your ears after awhile, when they read along with you in their tiny voices, reciting the workds from memory.

  8. What a lovely entry Stephanie. This is a great example of what I think of as decisive moment writing. Expression that is effectively like a discerning photograph – capturing just the right specifics of a feeling, a time and a memory. Bravo.

  9. Because of your post a few years ago (?) I started listening to Ray and he has kept me company on my commute nearly everyday since then. I saw him a few weeks ago at Radio City and hes everything and more. I really didnt think it could get any better than the Trouble album but this album is his best yet. Thanks to you hes been playing in my ear for years now.

  10. Eh. He's no Boz Scaggs or Van Morrison, but I suspect he's listened to them a lot. But this is coming from someone who way down deep believes that Rock Lobster is the culmination of Western musical achievement.

    Don't spill wine on the kid's head.

  11. Thank you for introducing me to Ray LaMontagne! I'm going to his Oakland concert next week and can't wait!

  12. *oh*
    i just got shivers.
    i would totally high-five you, but i'm not a fan of the high-five.
    i am so completely obsessed with ray lamontagne. he's the only thing i listened to in the hospital while in labor.
    also check out bon iver. he's got one album out and it's r-i-d-i-c-u-l-o-u-s.
    in a 'stick to your ribcage forever' kind of way.

  13. Thanks for letting me know about this album. My boyfriend and I danced to "You Are the Best Thing" and after the song ended he proposed to me with a gorgeous diamond engagement ring he bought from http://www.idonowidont.com Now we plan to have this song played at our upcoming wedding! Ray LaMontagne is so talented!

  14. I half expected to see you at the concert in Austin on Saturday night. It was nice, but it was no New York City.

    I just put this up– something I wrote about seeing him 2 years ago at the Beacon– for you to read. I never heard about him until 2/06 when Taylor Hicks sang his song on American Idol. Sad, but true.


  15. I can't believe how many couples are going to be dancing to this song at their wedding. I've planned the very same thing for our 9/09 wedding. LOVE RAY!

  16. Love, love, love You Are the Best Thing, but it comes in a close second to Let It Be Me. He has a beautiful voice.

  17. Oh my goodness… years ago, I was mindlessly flipping thru channels late on a Friday night and stumbled across his Austin City Limits performance. Thirty seconds into "Hold You in My Arms," I had decided to spend LESS time channel surfing and more time dating, so I could have someone to dance with whenever Ray played.

    My boyfriend has since been trained to realize that if I'm sipping on wine and listening to Ray when he comes home, he just might end up getting lucky.

    I gotta admit… the Meg White songs makes me giggle.

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