Sweet Forgiveness

I’ve written here before about the traveling I do, and the music that goes with me. When I’m driving at night, blues albums, or blues-influenced artists, often find their way into the player. Last night, Susan Tedeschi’s most recent album, Hope and Desire, came up as I hit the interstate. I had picked it up in the used bin a couple of weeks ago and had listened to it only once before, casually, while doing other things. But in the car, I tend to pay a little more attention. Not that I was completely focused on the music last night. I was on my way back to Madison from Milwaukee, going through the motions behind the wheel while my mind was miles away. Feeling a bit morose, I was thumbing through my (well-thumbed) catalog of regrets. Susan’s sweet blues were merely background.

Until track 7, a song written by Iris DeMent and first recorded by Bonnie Raitt in 1977, “Sweet Forgiveness.” As Susan started singing, I got completely caught up in it. Only someone without a heart (or perhaps, without regrets) wouldn’t be moved, not just by the words but by the absolute conviction and powerful emotion with which Susan sings them:

Sweet forgiveness, dear God above
I say we all deserve
A taste of this kind of love
Someone who’ll hold our hand
And whisper: “I understand
“And I still love you”

It’s a good thing we don’t usually get what we deserve, because a lot of the time, we deserve the worst for our various sins of commission and omission. That we sometimes are forgiven instead is both miracle and gift, and occasionally we need to be reminded of that–as I was last night.

And then I hit the button and played it again.

(The whole Hope and Desire album is great, by the way, largely made up of R&B covers and gospel tunes, plus songs by Bob Dylan and Jagger/Richards. I can’t imagine what it was doing in the used bin– how somebody could listen to anything so fine and then decide not to keep it, I don’t know.)

I’ve been on the receiving end of some great musical gifts in the last couple of weeks. First it was the 1976 airchecks from Paul; the other day Kevin at Got the Fever sent along “Open Up Your Door” by Richard and the Young Lions after I wrote about it. (I eagerly await Kevin’s bloggery on that and other garage-band topics.) So it’s time to pay it forward. Here’s “Sweet Forgiveness.” (Buy it here.)

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