Photo of Penny & Sparrow by  Jamie Clayton

Photo of Penny & Sparrow by Jamie Clayton

This branch of my blog has been really quiet (quasi-retired) over the last year or so, because personal and winding blog posts about music aren’t really a thing anymore (and maybe I’m fooling myself that they ever were). I still share clips and blurbs on my social media — and get great feedback from others who discover new music because of it — but I’ve missed coming here to share stories about songs that mean something to me. I’m coming back to it because I’ve realized music is as much a part of my story as anything else I write about, and I want to keep a record about who I was listening to as a kind of time capsule for myself and my children.

Last summer, I took them to the theatre to see a musical — the kind with live actors and booming Broadway voices. I’m very fortunate to have kids that are appreciative fans. And this particular show only served to reinforce their joy (there may have been some aisle dancing). The band that inspired the songs was one that we listened to a lot when I was growing up, and I knew my dad would have held onto the album.

During our next visit to my parents’ home, we flipped through his vinyl collection until we found it. He was happy to see it go home with my eight-year-old, who had already learned all the words to the songs. And every time we’ve put it on the turntable since, I’ve been taken back to my earliest days. My parents filled our home with music, and whenever I hear any of the songs from that time in my life, I feel an immediate connection to it. The mind has the most beautiful way of weaving senses with memories, and it’s such a gift to be able to be travel back to a feeling by riding the notes of a song.

This musical duo was shared with me by a dear friend, who sent me one of their songs when I asked for some new melancholy music. Penny & Sparrow deliver on that niche and then some. Whenever I write, I play sad songs. For me, it’s the best way to release the creativity that gets buried in the busyness of my daily life. There’s something about leaning into sorrow or pain or extraordinary emotion that makes me feel most in touch with my vulnerabilities. And I know that place to be the one where the truth can always be found.

Last week, I finally had the opportunity to hear them perform live in Toronto (after listening for a few years now), and they did not disappoint. Their newest album comes out this summer. But there are plenty of songs in their vast collection to fill your ears while you wait (click on the link and listen to their cover of Annie’s Song by John Denver. It’s exquisite).

I hope this song and all the other songs by these talented musicians becomes a gift from me to you, too.