Dar Williams

When I was sixteen years old, I spent a semester on a 300-acre working farm in northern Vermont.  Along with normal high-school type classes, we also had blocks of time in the day devoted to farm work — harvesting potatoes, mending fencing in the pasture, splitting logs.  You might imagine what would happen to a teenager’s brain when immersed in this sort of environment, reading Thoreau and Emerson.  I began to wear Carhartts and Birkenstock clogs, even in the snow. I learned to knit.  I tearfully paged through a copy of Reviving Ophelia.  And I discovered Dar Williams, a singer-songwriter and spiritual mix between Joan Baez and Ani DiFranco who had recently released her first album, Mortal City.  Now, here I am in London, almost half of my lifetime away from my time on the farm in Vermont.  Carhartts and Birkenstocks really aren’t my thing anymore, but I love the respect for the natural world that those months gave me.  I look back on my time in Vermont and feel a sense of peace, and the excitement of the burgeoning sense of political empowerment, possibility and responsibility that adulthood brings.

And I still love Dar Williams.  She’s gone on to have a lovely, long career, not a big name, but much beloved by her fans.  I’ve collected her albums, and some of her songs (which have lyrics like poems) I’ve heard so many times that I could sing them in my sleep.  She came to London on Friday evening, and I attended her show — I was delighted to find she had many fans this side of the pond as well. Second on her set? The Beauty of the Rain.

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