It’s January, and a lot of thoughts are bumping around in the noggin right now: the new year, the economy, winter, possible reasons my hen won’t lay eggs any more, ideas for next week’s newspaper column– that type of thing. Some of my more fleeting thoughts at first seem random. But from broader perspective they’re actually interconnected, like points in a giant connect-the-dots puzzle. My renewed craving for the music of country artist Kellie Coffey is just one of many endpoints.
Let’s begin at the first dot: winter. The holidays are over and we’ve entered winter’s bleak second chapter. Don’t get me wrong– I’m cool with snow and cold between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, when it’s thematically appropriate (in fact, no offense to those of you living in perpetually warm parts of the world, but a holiday season without winter weather is just sick and wrong).
But as soon as I polish off that last bowl of homemade chili on the evening of January 1, I categorically reject the winter season. Unfortunately I’m guaranteed three more solid months of frigid temps and filthy roadside snowdrifts. So it’s around this time every year that thoughts of warmer climes and cheerier times make their way to the forefront.
For some reason, this year’s pining is colored significantly by one particular moment– an evening in the winter of 2004. I sat on the steps of a Norwegian church overlooking the waters of Epcot’s World Showcase Lagoon at Walt Disney World. My family and I had just finished watching the nightly water/musical/pyrotechnic spectacular, Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, for the first time.
This amazing show (which costs Disney around $17,000 to present each night) deserves its own separate article, but the moment I’m referencing came directly after it ended, while the lagoon area was lit mostly by torchlight. Dying ripples on the water’s darkened surface and surrounding subtropical flora created an air of euphoria for me, which was rounded out by a song that poured from the park’s speaker system as the firework smoke dissipated.
The song was a poignant ballad delivered by a rich alto voice. Even with the all-powerful Web at my disposal, it still took me a week of intense research to figure out that the song was “Promise” performed by Kellie Coffey.
Since then, I’ve always associated that song and Kellie Coffey’s voice with peace, warmth, and wide-eyed adventure– all concepts the latter half of winter lacks.
To be clear, Coffey’s stuff is not new age yoga music. Nor is it “beach bum country” (a la Kenny Chesney). The mental associations are mine alone. I don’t expect anybody to understand.
You can probably purchase “Promise” somewhere at Walt Disney World (and probably at a ridiculous price), but you won’t find it on iTunes. What you will find on iTunes are her two country albums– 2002’s When You Lie Next To Me and 2007’s Walk On. I’m a country fan, mostly because of the historical and cultural elements at its roots. Most popular “country” music getting radio airplay these days is cheap and formulaic.
I’m happy to report that Kellie Coffey’s work doesn’t fit that mold. Genre purists might argue that it’s a little too “pop” for their tastes, but it meets my twang standard just fine. Even non country fans will appreciate her voice, a powerful alto that is ironically more expressive the more she subdues it. Both albums lack the typical filler tracks that plague most every record and are the primary reason I tend to buy individual songs rather than full albums. No filler here. Another plus for Coffey– she writes most of her own stuff.
It’s warmer than average today, but temps will drop tonight and I’ll be scraping the ice off my car windows again tomorrow morning. It’ll be another month before I see a palm tree or a beach again (two things I also associate with peace, warmth, and adventure). Until then, I’ll have Miss Kellie on the iPod.
Check her out at www.kelliecoffey.com.