Sweet Surrender

Sarah McLachlan.

Where do I start regarding my nearly 25 year love affair with her songs and her words.

How about with this:

photo (18)

This was October 18,2008.  I was living in Toronto, and I decided to go see her perform at MuchMoreMusic with my friends Derritt and Olivier.  She sang some songs, and spoke – and in a weird and cool moment, I got to ask her a question.  For 10 seconds, it seemed as though I was actually talking to her – this person I had obsessed over, and idolized as a late teen, and early adult.  I got to tell her in a completely non personal way that seeing her in concert was the best show I’d ever seen live.  In a fanatic sort of way, it was like a cool dream come true to have her respond to that.

What impressed me so much was her behaviour when the cameras weren’t rolling – she was quiet, kind and friendly.  When the show was done, Derritt quickly took my Fumbling Towards Ecstasy CD that I had hoped to have autographed, and ran ahead to a mob of people who were waiting for the same thing.  She signed everyone’s things, then she posed for pictures with nearly everyone there.  I was so impressed and surprised – she could have easily blown off this whole part, but she didn’t.  She stayed about an hour after the show was wrapped.  It was amazing.

Sarah’s latest record Shine On came out a week ago.  I was excited to listen to it, because I wanted to hear her voice again.  This voice that got me through all kinds of situations: heartbreak, loss, death, love – and I wanted to hear something new from her.

The first time I ever anything to do with Sarah McLachlan was this:

Into the Fire

Covered in mud, singing “Into the Fire”.  Needless to say, she caught my attention as there was literally NO ONE in my pop musical landscape doing something so odd and interesting.  Welcome to Solace.

I have been fortunate enough to see Sarah McLachlan twice – in 1997 and in 2004.  The 1997 show remains in my top favorite shows ever.  It was in October of that year.  Surfacing had come out that summer, so it was still pretty fresh in people’s minds and it was still before the massive world domination that that album would end up having.  I remember her singing “Vox and dancing on the stage, thinking about how fun and happy I remember her singing “Angel” – you could hear a pin drop in the Bell Center when she sang that song.  I remember the audience erupting into a standing ovation once she had finished.  I can still think about that moment now and get goosebumps.

By the time I had seen her in 2004, she was a full on superstar – Afterglow was the album she was promoting that time around, and you could tell that she was so excited to perform a whole new batch of songs.  I remember wondering whether “Angel” would have the same impact on me after hearing it countless times on the radio, on television, on talk shows etc.  But sure enough, when she sat at that piano and started you could tell it was magic. Audience standing ovation followed.

Shine On is a lovely example of an artist who has seen everything, but managing to show that she still has some tricks up her sleeve.   The album is pretty inescapable on my iPod at the moment.  We’ve all evolved since the days of Fumbling Towards Ecstasy and the like –  those same kids who wore out the records are grown now, and yet the loyalty is still there.  The loyalty for her work and her art.  If someone always does it from a genuine place, the loyalty is always along for the ride.