Nevermind that i own all of her albums. Nevermind that i essentially learned to play guitar by listening to her live cd. Nevermind that last night was the sixth time i’ve seen her in concert in as many years. Just forget about all of it. All that matters, really, is Nava sending me home with a cassette tape called Out Of Range and me sliding into my mother’s stereo and rewinding it.
First songs are first songs for a reason; they are meant to catch your attention and to keep you listening. Of course, every song on an album should do that, but first songs should be engaging even upon a first listen. “Buildings and Bridges” was that exactly – i didn’t really fall in love with it, but i wasn’t disinterested either. It was what came next, though, that got my attention.
Without much hyperbole, “Out of Range” changed my life, and i could feel it physically the first time i heard it. It wasn’t just in my ears, but in my heart, my stomach, and on the tip of my tongue and fingers. One woman and one acoustic guitar literally changed everything and i remember wrapping my mind around every one of those dozen songs just as well as i remember standing in the ‘D’ section at Tower Records staring intently at the cover of Dilate as it beckoned to me — even as i already had OoR in my hand.
The first time i saw Ani DiFranco she was opening for Bob Dylan, ostensibly touring behind her critically applauded live release Living In Clip. There’s no such thing as touring behind a record for Ani, really … it’s just one neverending tour that occasionally overlaps with the release of a record. Point being, she didn’t necessarily play LiC songs, or any other songs for that matter. Without looking up the set list, i can say with some certainty that she only played a single song from Out of Range, and even though i only owned three of her albums at that point i didn’t mind the set list at all.
Four other Ani concerts later, and i had still never heard “Out of Range” live; she had played it for entire weeks leading up to a Philly show, but never at a show i attended. I didn’t expect to hear it last night; she had already played another song from the album, and it was nearly the end of her set. I knew, though, at the moment she thrashed through the series of opening chords.
And, hands pressed over my mouth as if they were suppressing the scream that was welling up from the core of me, i wept. Wept, and silently mouthed the words and stared at the flash of her hands on the neck of the guitar. And wept.