One for Friday: Blue Rodeo, “5 Days in May”

blue rodeo 1993

The discovery process with music never ends. That’s one of the truest joys of being a fan. Even a band that has been studied and loved can provide a surprise, and an album that was listened to and appreciated can suddenly suddenly pop with genius when heard again at the right time, in the right way, probably with the right set of emotions swirling around inside.

Blue Rodeo was a favorite band during my college radio days. It started, gently, with the albums Diamond Mine and Casino that arrived within my first couple of years at the station, but truly kicked in with ferocity after I and a crew of my dearest friends saw them open for Edie Brickell and New Bohemians on a particularly memorable night in Milwaukee. From that night on, I was always happy to add one of their songs to my on-air playlists, probably accompanied by my eager and tiresome recitation of stories they told from the stage.

Although I felt I knew the band and knew their music, I could still occasionally be caught off guard by the power an individual song held for me. That was the experience I had with “5 Days in May,” the lead track and kinda-sorta title cut from their 1993 album, Five Days in July (which released in the U.S. the following year). The wistful yearning of the lyrics (“He wrote her name in the sand/ Never even let go of her hand”) is perfectly matched by the easy, intricate lope of the music.

I remember listening to the track repeatedly, trying to tease out its emotional secrets, somehow sure — as I often was with the songs that drove straight into my psyche — that it could provide a useful road map to my own buried uncertainties.I don’t know that it did — or does — but that sense that it could is what can transform a song from a few minutes on a record to something that takes up a sort of spiritual residence in my being.

Does that seem like too much? Probably. It probably does. And yet, even as I sit here miles and miles removed from my exquisite twentysomething romanticized agony, I can conjure that same sensation up anytime I hear the song’s false start. So, yes, the discovery process goes on, repeating beautifully.

Listen or download –> Blue Rodeo, “5 Days in May”

(Disclaimer: Look at how gushy that all got up there. I obviously felt compelled to write about this song this week. So I definitely did not engage in my usual due diligence to see if the track is still available on a physical format that can be procured from your favorite local, independently-owned record store in a manner that compensates both the original artist and the proprietor of said shop. That orchestrated rationalization for file sharing sidestepped for a week, let me note that I consider the sharing of a single music track to be well within the viciously eroded concept of fair use, and I mean no harm to the bottom line of Blue Rodeo. And I do know the rules. I will gladly and promptly remove this file from my little corner of the digital world if asked to do so by any individual or entity with due authority to make such a request.)

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