I’ve been looking for songs about healing a broken heart, and as I said a few posts ago, I’ve asked a few singing groups for repertoire suggestions.
In this way I came across an amazing song cycle by Maury Yeston called December songs, essentially the journey of a woman recovering from a breakup. It’s fascinating because it is based on some Schubert song cycles (Winterreise and Schone Mullerin) that are profoundly sad, and portray hopeless despair at the loss of love. But in the Yeston cycle, the heroine seems to find consolation and recovery – the last song is called “What a relief”!
I’ve ordered a CD and the sheet music and am waiting for the deliveries to arrive – in the meantime I found a few MP3 files, one of which, By the river, is currently haunting me, in a consoling sort of way. Here’s the refrain (as far as I can make out the words):
People will be born, people will die
As before you were born and long after you
Young ones will find love
and will fight, and hand will find hand
We will flow on and on, on and on
River calling, “Come join my journey
I will ease your burden, I will be your rest
River calling, “Call me, my lover,
I will bring you freedom, flow along with me to the sea!”
It’s strange, because this song is in some ways similar to the last songs of Die Schone Mullerin, Der Müller und der Bach and Des Baches Wiegenlied where the protagonist ends up so desolate that the only place he can find rest is the crystal blue depths of the river i.e. through drowning himself… That’s one interpretation of the words of the Yeston song too, but somehow the Yeston song feels more about staying alive and immersing yourself in the flow of life, with all its ups and downs, tragedies and triumphs.
The Schubert songs are incredibly beautiful, and I have loved them for years. But right now the mood of the Yeston cycle is what I am drawn to. It somehow speaks to the “when life hand you lemons, make lemonade” space I am in now about the breakup.
There are moments now when I am as happy as I was in the first days of falling in love, not just alive and interested in my life, but also exhilaratingly aware of my own strength and worth and lovableness. The dawn is so beautiful after a difficult night!
Can’t wait for the music to arrive.