Trying to read the Greek upon the stars, the alphabet of feeling
November 7, 2019 11:10 PM   Subscribe

Indigo Girls meditate on death and loss and the strength of those still around on their fifth album from 1994 (25 years ago), Swamp Ophelia. Possibly one of their strongest releases (and the mirror bookend to Rites Of Passage [previously] in many ways), it's worth a relisten or a new listen if you don't know it. Side A: Fugitive, Least Complicated [video], Language Or The Kiss, Reunion, Power Of Two [video], Touch Me Fall [only video available, truncated version] posted by hippybear (9 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
This was the first Indigo Girls album I ever heard. My first-year college roommate introduced me to them, Michelle Shocked (Anchored Down in Anchorage), Sarah McLachlan (Ice Cream) and Edie Brickell (What I Am).

Pre-internet, the amount of American indie music readily available to hear in Pakistan was pretty much zilch. I fell in love with female singer-songwriters. They filled a vacuum in my listening that I hadn't even realized existed.
And to this day, when the wind starts feeling nippy, I find myself singing "I could go crazy on a night like tonight/ Summer's beginning to give up the fight..."
posted by bardophile at 12:52 AM on November 8, 2019 [9 favorites]

This is the one I sang with my roommate at summer stock that year walking down the streets of, of all places, Brunswick, Maine. I love it so much.

I still sing it in the shower, and my band covers Least Complicated, none of the other members having known it before I brought it to them.
posted by wellred at 4:58 AM on November 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

I just nerded out on Swamp Ophelia a couple of weeks ago. I must have played it five or six times in a row. I love that album.

Thanks hippybear!
posted by djeo at 5:56 AM on November 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Probably my favorite IG album, with both of them at the height of their creative powers. Least Complicated is such a freaking great song.

1994 is also when they recorded Jesus Christ Superstar: A Resurrection with their fellow Atlanta musicians, which Amy as Jesus and Emily as Mary Magdalene. A playlist of the full live concert is available on YouTube. My 19-year-old self played the hell out of both of these albums.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 6:31 AM on November 8, 2019 [6 favorites]

There must be a thousand things you would die for. I can hardly think of two.
posted by pjenks at 6:55 AM on November 8, 2019 [5 favorites]

I graduated from high school in 1995. Swamp Ophelia was the soundtrack to my senior year, so much so that as much as I adore it, it can be rough to listen to because of all the teen angst associated with it
posted by hydropsyche at 10:41 AM on November 8, 2019

My favorite of theirs, and the one I still listen to the most. Can't believe its been 25 years though....
posted by spilon at 11:58 AM on November 8, 2019

"Least Complicated" was one of the songs on my very first boyfriend's mix tape he made for me. I accidentally discovered that he passed away suddenly last year (...thanks, Facebook), so I'm taking a bittersweet moment in his memory listening to it again. Thanks for posting.
posted by mykescipark at 12:11 PM on November 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

Album notes (this one is pretty deep for me):

Fugitive: Like, how fucking strong an album opening track do you need? This is ridiculous. Background

Least Complicated: An overwhelming fan favorite, total sing-a-long. Also one of my total favorite IG music videos. The lyric "It's not love it's only something new" has helped me out many a time. (Belated TMI warning.) Background

Language Or The Kiss: There is so much truth in this song, it echoes across much of my life. So hard to describe. It's not even about anything specific, but its wisdom is constant in my mind.

Reunion: I went to my 10th high school reunion. The song perfectly expresses my sentiments about the experience. I have a Story, but TMI. Background

Power Of Two: The power of this song should never be underestimated. It's such a beautiful statement. Another crowd favorite with deafening along-singings. Background

Touch Me Fall: Amy goes full on, what? Art rock? Post rock? Music poetry? She's always pushed boundaries. Love the gentle, muted trumpets. Background

The Wood Song: This song is one of the reasons I'm still alive. Also, Side 2 opener after Touch Me Fall and having to find the strength to get up and turn the record over? And then this, like, a sudden fresh breeze. Even on CD, this song is SO needed after what came before. But if the weather holds, we'll have missed the point - that's where we need to go.

Mystery: 20-odd years ago, when mr hippybear and I were in a long distance relationship and we had Indigo Girls in common, he told me the resonant lyric was "each time you pull down the driveway, I wan't sure when I would see you again". Even today mine is a twisted blind-sided highway while he has remained constant in my life. This song is so much feels. Background

Dead Man's Hill: The traces of trauma in a life, how things keep coming back... I could then and can now still relate. Background

Fare Thee Well: Oh man, the lives I've seen just fizzle out... Heartbreaking, but you will never again know what it's like to never love. Background

This Train Revised: This Train Is Bound For Glory (Bob Dylan via Big Bill Broonzy is the source material).
posted by hippybear at 4:44 PM on November 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

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