Calling All Angels

Last night, my sweety and I watched an online conversation between American singer-songwriter, writer, producer, fisher, carpenter and philanthropist Brandi Carlile and Shelley Youngblut, CEO and Creative Ringleader of Wordfest, of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, on Wordfest’s Imagine On Air series.

Wordfest held the event to promote Carlile’s just-released memoir, Broken Horses. We truly enjoyed the program; a bit of inspiration and fun amid the usual routines of pandemic-restricted life. As part of the CAD 40.00 ticket price, we received a hardcover copy of the book last week, and Sweety has finished it already (in addition to all she does in our life, she’s a voracious reader).

Last year, I featured a song by Carlile on this blog, “The Joke.” If you don’t know it, head over to that post next. It is a breathtakingly beautiful song.

During the talk, Carlile mentioned Canadian singer-songwriter, producer and poet Jane Siberry, who host Youngblut referred to as “Canada’s Kate Bush.” Such an apt description. I’ve known Siberry’s music only marginally for years, though I have one of her records, The Speckless Sky (1985). She has worked with greats like Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel and is well known as a musical innovator in alternative and experimental music spaces. If find her quite an interesting and admirable artist.

Perhaps Siberry’s best-known song, “Calling All Angels,” sung as a duet featuring Canada’s k.d. lang, appears in the 1991 Wim Wenders film Until the End of the World, as well as the soundtrack for the 1994 documentary TV series, In Search of Angels. Siberry re-recorded the song for the soundtrack of the Mimi Leder film, Pay It Forward (2000). I don’t care as much for the later version. The mix and production are not as bright, and I feel it loses some of the ethereal sounds of the original, which Siberry also released as part of her album When I Was a Boy (1993). Because of the mix on the 2000 version, I can’t really tell if it is still k.d. lang singing the duet part.

After a full day of fun outdoors with family, this song seems like a good one to settle into a lazy Friday evening.

Santa Maria, Santa Teresa, Santa Anna, Santa Susannah
Santa Cecilia, Santa Copelia, Santa Dominica, Mary Angelica
Frater Achad, Frater Pietro, Julianus, Petronella
Santa, Santos, Miroslaw, Vladimir
And all the rest

Oh a man is placed upon the steps, and a baby cries
High above it hear the church bells start to ring
And as the heaviness
Oh the heaviness the body settles in
Somewhere you can hear a mother sing

Then it’s one foot then the other
As you step out on the road, steppin on the road
How much weight? How much?
Then it’s how long? And how far?
And how many times… Oh… Before it’s too late?

Calling all angels
Calling all angels
Walk me through this world
Don’t leave me alone
Calling all angels
Calling all angels
We’re trying we’re hoping
But we’re not sure how long…

Oh and every day you gaze upon the sunset
With such love and intensity
Why it’s… It’s almost as if
If you could only crack the code
Then you’d finally understand what this all means

But if you could… Do you think you would
Trade it all
All the pain and suffering?
Ah, but then you’ve miss
The beauty of the light upon this earth
And the sweetness of the leaving

Calling all angels
Calling all angels
Walk me through this world
Don’t leave me alone
Callin’ all angels
Callin’ all angels
We’re tryin’
We’re hopin’ but we’re not sure how
Calling all angels
Calling all angels
Calling all angels
Calling all angels
Walk me through this world
Walk me through this world
Don’t leave me alone
Calling all angels
Calling all angels
We’re trying’
We’re hoping
We’re hurting
We’re lovin’
We’re cryin’
We’re callin’
’Cause we’re not sure how this goes…

(“Calling All Angels,” by Jane Siberry.
Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of Genius.com,
with a few corrections by your faithful servant.)

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

The rendition of the song on Siberry’s YouTube channel is the Pay It Forward re-recording. I’m sharing below the version I prefer, the 1993 Siberry/lang duet, which appears as a remastered track from a k.d. lang compilation album, on the official k.d. lang YouTube channel:

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