I've seen several posts about the Dar Williams song February lately, and they're all about, well, February, and how it's so long and cold and seems to go on forever. This song has been in my top 20 for a long time, and here's the funny thing - I've never thought about it as a February song. For me it's a year-round pain and hope song about how relationships freeze up and go awry and how that somehow happens without us noticing. And then it's too late. And then we think back to identify what went wrong and we can't remember. Thank goodness for the last verse of this song, or it would be seriously too depressing. Even though the last line is "I have lost to February," it's sort of like an acknowledgement that we just keep on keeping on, steeling ourselves for the next inevitable rift, because that's what humans are meant to do, that's how we grow, and if we think of it that way it's not so traumatic.
I had a friend once who found no meaning in this song. I couldn't understand why, and then I realized someone's who's never had the experience in February won't get it. Maybe when a love drifts away or an argument turns into a year of silence, she'll get it.
I threw your keys in the water, I looked back, They'd frozen halfway down in the ice. They froze up so quickly, the keys and their owners, Even after the anger, it all turned silent, and The everyday turned solitary, So we came to February.
First we forgot where we'd planted those bulbs last year, Then we forgot that we'd planted at all, Then we forgot what plants are altogether, and I blamed you for my freezing and forgetting and The nights were long and cold and scary, Can we live through February?
You know I think Christmas was a long red glare, Shot up like a warning, we gave presents without cards, And then the snow, And then the snow came, we were always out shoveling, And we'd drop to sleep exhausted, Then we'd wake up, and its snowing.
And February was so long that it lasted into March And found us walking a path alone together. You stopped and pointed and you said, "That's a crocus," And I said, "What's a crocus?" and you said, "It's a flower," I tried to remember, but I said, "What's a flower?" You said, "I still love you."
lyrics (and music) by Dar Williams
The leaves were turning as we drove to the hardware store, My new lover made me keys to the house, And when we got home, well we just started chopping wood, Because you never know how next year will be, And we'll gather all our arms can carry, I have lost to February.
No one writes like Dar.
And here's a bit of trivia. Dar and Joss Whedon both went to the same college. Kind of makes me wish I'd gone to Wesleyan...