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The sounds of travel 2: "The Mountain"
Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer -- "The Mountain"
The first time I ever heard a live performance of "The Mountain," I was sitting on the hillside at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in the Berkshires of New York. Tracy Grammer was singing the song written by her late partner, Dave Carter, and the melody and poetry put me in a trance. What mountain is she talking about, I wondered. For a while, I believed the song must be about the very mountain I was on at the time.
To me, it felt like the song was about finding peace, and there is no place I'd ever felt more at peace than at Falcon Ridge, surrounded by gentle spirits, people who love the world well. Dave Carter wrote a lot of music about wandering the earth, going places and seeing things, and listening to Dave & Tracy's albums always fills me with a desire to hit the road, but "The Mountain" always takes me to specific destinations.
First it was Falcon Ridge, and sometimes it still is, but then I visited Portland, Oregon. Dave had lived there when he wrote the song, and seeing Mount Hood for the first time, it dawned on me that this was probably the mountain in the song. While traveling in Oregon, I felt constantly drawn to the mountains, and so much at peace when I could just sit and stare at them. I felt like I really got the song this time. I wrote to Tracy Grammer to confirm my theory. She wrote back and told me this: "'The Mountain' isn't about any particular mountain, far as I know. The song was inspired by a dream Dave had, where he stood on a mountain and watched the wind move through the long grass in waves ... a place he felt the power of grace as if for the first time."
Perfect. That's exactly the way I felt sitting on that hill at Falcon Ridge for the first time, thinking This! This is where I need to be. This is where I need to keep coming back. And I do return for the festival every year (so does Tracy Grammer). It's also how I felt when I saw Mount Hood for the first time, like I would always feel happy as long as I had a clear view of the Cascade Range. Mount Hood became my Utopia, and I know I'll keep returning to it for the rest of my life.
"The Mountain" is closely associated with my two favorite places in the world, and whenever I hear the song, I feel at peace the way I imagine Dave Carter felt when he wrote it. I think the underlying theme of the song is not necessarily about going to the mountains but rather being exactly where you want to be. This song takes me there.
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