Sanctified Songs

You go to the open mics,
you sip from that chalice of communal art,
and eventually
you’re gonna find yourself
in the company of a couple or three songs
over and over (sigh…)
and over again.
You may like them
at first
but rest assured
familiarity will breed contempt.

First, there’s “Hallelujah,” which,
despite what you may have heard
is not written by Jeff Buckley
– though the author IS still dead.
Sometimes, you may hear the Lang version
or the Burke version
or the Shrek version
but you will hear it
in all its repeated glory,
most of all.

Creeping in second
is “Creep,” which will
at least
be played on a wider range of instruments.
The adorably twee college girl
with her three drunk friends hooting along
to her ukulele interpretation
of that semi-stalker anthem?
That’s something special
– short bus special.

“Landslide” falls much lower
on the list
but still gets thrown down
with too frequent abandon,
almost exclusively by those same twee girls
referred to above.
It’s reception never grows cold
but you’ll get older
listening to it.
It always sounds better than Stevie
though.

And then there’s the Dylan canon.
No single song of his
beats out any of these others
but several come close.
You’ve got your “Wagon Wheel”s,
your “Rainy Day Women”s, “Lay”s,
your “Masters” and “Heaven’s Door”s
and “Watchtower”s and so many mores.
It’s exhausting, really.
Bob’s collective work
is repeated more often
than anyone else’s
by far,
most usually by earnest young men
who think they’re original
– just like their idol.
Sometimes the songs are good.
Always they elicit sighs
of sadness
from those that have heard these interpretations
incessantly.
It’s enough to scream,
“It ain’t me you’re singing for, babe!”
It’s too much
for even an open mic veteran to take.

“Freebird,” surprisingly,
never gets performed,
despite being requested more than any other cut
ever.
Go figure.

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