On Wednesday, February 14, you’ll be hearing Echoes of the Heart, A St. Valentine’s Soundscape. We’ve been doing these shows pretty much since the beginning of Echoes and the movement in time can be marked by relationships memorialized in song, but which no longer exist. How many albums feature dedications to the significant others in their lives who are no longer quite so significant? I’m this has been going on for millennia, but I first noticed it when Michael Stearns put “Marriage Chords” on his M’Ocean album. A few years later, that relationship was gone, but the song lives on.
Another song was Mark Isham’s “My Wife With Champagne Shoulders.” He was married to Margaret at the time, but like so many relationships, that one ended. But though he could take off the wedding ring, he couldn’t unsound the song. Those tunes are somewhat generic in their title imagery, but others are more like a tattoo. Guitarist and Windham Hill records founder Will Ackerman has had many relationships over the years and a batch of songs strewn in their wake. Among them is “Anne’s Song” for his first wife and “Shella’s Pictures” named for another wife’s paintings. Shella isn’t in the picture anymore and when Ackerman re-recorded the tune on his album, Returning, it was just called “Pictures.”
This is nothing new. One of John Coltrane’s best known and most frequently recorded songs is the ballad, “Naima,” written for his wife of the same name. Naima was supplanted by Alice, but the song lives on.
In that way, songs are like tattoos. Long after the relationship is over, the songs linger on. If you’ve got some ex-Love songs in the Echoes vein, let me know. It could be next year’s Echoes of the Heart.