floating fast like a hummingbird / by laurel

A few people have asked me over time why my blog URL is what it is. I was listening to my iPod this morning at work and the namesake song came on and reminded me, yet again, why it's one of the greatest pieces of music ever written. 

I created this blog in June 2005, shortly after graduating college and in my insoluble, self-pitying haze I felt all the solidarity in the world when Jeff Tweedy sang about deep chrome canyons and loud Manhattans. (Seriously, read the first few entries from That Time In My Life - i.e. June through about September, 2005 - and you'll understand what I'm talking about. Insufferable to the -nth degree.) In fact, just for kicks, I'll go ahead and lay it out for you right now:
The airplane seemed to hover over the dividing line of my present state; the Jefferson of my past and the Hood of my future. Here in this strange altitude, breathing the recycled air, it seemed all that separated me from everything—my life, the altitude, the atmosphere; the entire world—was a 2-inch piece of plexi-glass. I was disengaged from the present life, and I watched it with empty eyes, a patchwork of daily events and meandering hours. I was a hummingbird from far away, floating fast against the perils of stillness, wings beating against the inevitable loneliness of change and transition.

Good grief. The PERILS, I say! Anything but those!

I'm not quite so freaked out by life's looming unknowns as I was then; that is to say, I'm terrified - and rightfully so - about the inevitables (earthquakes, sickness, death, etc). But as for who my friends are or what my calling in life is or where I'm going to live or why Los Angeles is such a cruel mistress...well, those questions have been buried along with my 22-year-old insouciance. And good riddance. It made for scintillating journal entries to be sure, but I'm fairly certain I was just a breath away from total and utter over-dramatized self-destruction at that point. 

But that's what is so brilliant about Jeff Tweedy's lyrics. Because even though the source of the original magnetic pull that bonded me inseparably to "Hummingbird" has changed, I still find all the solidarity in the world when Tweedy casts his insecurities toward the cosmos and determines, "And the gray fountain spray of the great Milky Way would never let him die alone."

And so here, in its full splendor, is the song that started it all - both this blog and life as an adult. I hope you find meaning in it as I have. And if you don't own the album from which this song hails (A Ghost Is Born), then I have no words for you except: Get thee to iTunes, POST HASTE!

His goal in life was to be an echo
Riding alone, town after town, toll after toll
A fixed bayonet through the great southwest to forget her

She appears in his dreams
But in his car and in his arms
A dream can mean anything
A cheap sunset on a television set can upset her
But he never could

Remember to remember me
Standing still in your past
Floating fast like a hummingbird

His goal in life was to be an echo
The type of sound that floats around and then back down
Like a feather
But in the deep chrome canyons of the loudest Manhattans
No one could hear him
Or anything

So he slept on a mountain
In a sleeping bag underneath the stars
He would lie awake and count them
And the gray fountain spray of the great Milky Way
Would never let him
Die alone

Remember to remember me
Standing still in your past
Floating fast like a hummingbird

Remember to remember me
Standing still in your past
Floating fast like a hummingbird

A hummingbird
A hummingbird