Helpless

Ever feel helpless?

It doesn’t happen to me often, but it can be tough to get through when it does. Occasionally over the past ten months, I’ve felt low. Like you, I know the pandemic isn’t going to be forever, and I really hope that we’ll be able to be with family and friends and resume some of our activities this year. My sweety and I were talking about this yesterday during a sunny afternoon walk. We both wonder how long it will be until people start feeling safe at public gatherings like concerts once those return.

Neil Young wrote “Helpless” for the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s 1970 album, Déjà Vu. Many artists have covered the song, including Nick Cave, Patti Smith, Cowboy Junkies, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Moby, and k.d. lang, who recorded the song on her 2004 album, Hymns of the 49th Parallel. It’s a beautiful cover that includes a string section. She also performed it on stage in 2017 for Young’s induction to the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Young has been featured on this blog twice before, with his official music video for “Harvest Moon” and a cover of “After the Gold Rush” sung by Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris.

The song seems to be about home, longing and living in life’s mystery. Some also believe it refers to the resource-based economy of northern Ontario, Canada, which can make for helplessness in the face of cyclical unemployment.

When I’m feeling helpless, I know I need to sit with it and breathe through it to help the feeling settle. Moving my body also works: a swift and strenuous session on the bike trainer does wonders, as does a sweety who massages my shoulders.

In the end, I usually get to a place of appreciating the many good things in my life and, while that may not solve everything, it adds perspective. It’s hard to feel genuinely helpless when there’s so much help around. I’m lucky in that way, though I know many are not.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the video of k.d. lang performing the song in 2017, from the CBC Music YouTube channel:

Lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

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