83. Song No. 928: “Beneath a Crozet Trestle Bridge,” Paul Curreri
Songs for Devon Sproule, 2003
Paul Curreri came to me by way of one of my husband’s friends uploading a bunch of his songs onto our home computer ages ago and another one of his friends playing some of those songs one gleefully routine drunken night years later right as another too-long winter was giving way to the vast improvement of spring. I pride myself on being the keeper of our musical library and am still pissed as all hell that I spent so many years ignorant to the wealth of incredible music living on our basically-a-digital-music-player-now desktop, though a spring awakening proved to be the perfect backdrop to all the stripped-raw, bluesy fingerpicking that Paul Curreri has blessed the world with.
I tend to gravitate to his later album California the most because “Stephen Crane” and its accompanying album quickly announced itself as my go-to while I was devouring Curreri’s oeuvre but daaaaaayum, I haven’t found a song of his I’m ever inclined to skip yet. And there are tons more that are all essentially a dreamy tangle of second favorites.
Many of those tunes live on Songs for Devon Sproule, so named for the musician’s also-musical wife he met by drunkenly climbing on stage with her to turn a solo performance into a duet. So many of those songs are brimming over with kinetic energy and life; “Beneath a Crozet Trestle Bridge” is awestruck and meditative and seemingly shaped by the contemplative rush of accepting how small and vulnerable you are compared to all the things in life waiting to overwhelm you.
Which isn’t a bad thing, especially when the topic at hand is the humbling beauty in everything from the world around you to the world inside you to the world distilled into one still largely unknown but inevitably foretold person of singular significance. From the majesty of natural vistas abutting spectacular monstrosities to the methodical discovery of someone who’ll become a part of or at least leave a lasting impact on you to the wistful recall of shunted memories that should have played out a million different ways, there is beauty in everything if you’re willing to recast your expectations and perspective enough to risk being scared and laid bare by the things in which you’ll ultimately find sublimely staggering redemption.
A song like this, where the subject and melody and lyrics all come together into an unassuming but breathtaking wisp of a near-perfect whole, is underscored by the almost imperceptible build toward a crescendo that isn’t so much an explosion as an emotion, the quiet acceptance of a reality that is so much bigger and wondrous and poignantly painful than our tiny vantage points will ever know but can always feel, if we make ourselves receptive to it.