Song of the Day #2,313: ‘Engine To Turn’ – Tift Merritt

seeyouonthemoon

Best Albums of the 10s So Far
#6 – Tift Merritt – See You On the Moon

 
The second Tift Merritt album on this list is her finest record yet, 2010’s See You On the Moon.

I love this album so much I almost ran out of songs to feature on the blog. Of Merritt’s five studio albums, this is the one that best captures her Joni Mitchell-meets-Emmylou Harris sound and spirit.

She writes songs about love and loss with equal parts earthiness and delicacy — she’s a poet strumming her guitar on a front porch swing next to a pitcher of lemonade. Every note, every lyric is a treasure.

I’d have See You On the Moon on this list even if it contained only one track, the beautiful ‘The Things That Everybody Does,’ one of my very favorite songs by anybody ever.

But the record contains so many other subtle surprises. From ‘Feel of the World,’ about the loss of a spouse after decades together (inspired by Merritt’s grandparents) to sultry opening track ‘Mixtape,’ which compares a burgeoning relationship to a hand-crafted compilation album; from the lovely make-up song ‘All the Reasons We Don’t Have to Fight’ to a tender acoustic cover of ‘Danny’s Song.’ All hits, no misses.

On Merritt’s website, I found this quote describing the recording of See You on the Moon. It’s a nice glimpse at the atmosphere that went into the creation of such a special record:

I put a note on the wall beside the desk where I was writing this record. Direct, is what it read. This album is a parcel of letters stowed in my pocket all along. Ghosts came to visit this record like compasses we were unaware of pointing us in the right direction. We wanted to make something elemental: open space, grit, real strength. Direct. Two people talking honestly. We kept to ourselves in the studio like this was what we had been practicing for all along, loosely, inevitably, a wide net of openness, a pencil shaved with focus. We drank some beers. We made soup. We wore roller skates. We told the truth. We didn’t want to talk about this record. We just wanted to play it.

I don’t know how to fix the world.
I don’t know how to fix myself.
Seems like we both need some love,
seems like we both need some help.

Maybe you could fix with might.
Maybe you could just stare it down.
Seems like some tenderness could turn the whole thing around.

I’m just trying to get the engine to turn.
I’m just trying to smile through my tears.
And I still got so much to learn,
But the best I can is what I have to give,
Gonna give it while I’m here.

Most days I want to speed up.
Seems like I ought to slow down.
Maybe the pieces are here, if I just took a good look around.

Maybe the world feels like me,
Wishing someone would it a song,
About how there’s a lot of good here,
about how it’s done nothing wrong.

I’m just trying to get the engine to turn,
I’m just trying to smile through my tears.
And I still got so much to learn,
But the best I can is what I have to give,
Gonna give it while I’m here.

Sometimes there’s a choir in my head,
Singing at the top of its voice,
Singing at the top of its voice,
They sing, don’t look back.
Don’t be scared. Don’t be scared.

I’m just trying to get the engine to turn.
I’m just trying to smile through my tears.
And I still got so much to learn,
But the best I can is what I have to give,
Gonna give it while I’m here.

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One thought on “Song of the Day #2,313: ‘Engine To Turn’ – Tift Merritt

  1. Dana says:

    Well, it seems this is another album I should be listening to. As Amy bemoans, so much music, so little time.

    Meanwhile, it would be so nice if Tift could get at least one of her songs on the airwaves so that she could reach a wider audience, but, for now, at least she has the support of you and a dozen or so people around the country.😜

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