Once Upon Another Time

The first time I heard the music of American singer-songwriter and actor Sara Bareilles (b. 1979) was when I listened to “Winter Song,” co-written by her and fellow American singer, songwriter and actor Ingrid Michaelson (also b. 1979). It was a cover by the Canadian alternative folk/country trio, The Good Lovelies, performed during a musical segment in the annual Christmas show by Canadian humourist and storyteller Stuart McLean (1948-2017). While we had only taken in a couple of these shows, the event had fast become a tradition for our family, though this yearly treat ended abruptly with McLean’s tragic illness and death.

“Winter Song,” often regarded as a Christmas tune (though there is no mention of things yuletide in it), is beautiful and I still remember the mesmerizing, three-part harmonies of The Good Lovelies. At the urging of many fans, the trio later recorded their version of the song. (Please see my post about it while you’re here; you won’t be sorry you did.)

I’ve kept my eyes and ears open for Bareilles since, and a few weeks ago, I saw a YouTube video of her singing her composition “Once Upon Another Time.” This particular version was part of a 2018 concert with American singer-songwriter, musician and composer Ben Folds (b. 1966; does anyone remember the Ben Folds Five from the 1990s?), American singer, violinist and contemporary classical composer Caroline Shaw (b. 1982), and the National Symphony Orchestra of the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, USA. The performance is one of a series called DECLASSIFIED: Ben Folds Presents, in Folds’ role as artistic advisor for the center.

In a 2012 interview, Bareilles told American Songwriter magazine about the naming of the album Once Upon Another Time, released that same year (and, coincidentally, produced by Folds): “…the title track is really about loss of your childhood and letting go of your past, and that’s a part of my life right now, a journey I feel like I’m on. It felt befitting to name the album that.”

“Once upon another time
Somebody’s hands who felt like mine
Turned the key and took a drive
Was free

I recall the sun sank low
Buckley on the radio
Cigarette was burning slow
So breathe

Just yellow lines and tire marks
Sun-kissed skin and handlebars
And where I stood was where I was
To be

No enemies to call my own
No porch light on to pull me home
And where I was is beautiful
Because I was free

Once upon another time
Before I knew which life was mine
Before I left the child behind
Be

I saw myself in summer nights
And stars lit up like candle lights
I made my wish but mostly I
Believed

And yellow lines and tire marks
Sun-kissed skin and handlebars
And where I stood was where I was
To be

Once upon another time
Deciding nothing good in dying
So I would just keep on driving
Because I was free”

“Once Upon Another Time,” by Sara Bareilles.
Lyrics retrieved from Lyrics.com.

The song and its meaning bring to mind a dear friend and the joy he takes in sharing the sweet memories of his childhood. While we do have to let go of our youth, it is important to retain or reclaim that sense of wonder young people have about the world instead of the cynicism that often permeates adulthood. These ideas made me feel this would be a good piece to share with you today. I hope you’ll let me know what you think of it, in the comments section of this post.

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

Please enjoy the music video from The Kennedy Center YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,

Steve

2 thoughts on “Once Upon Another Time

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