Tuesday Evening Melody: “Storm-Broken Tree” by The White Birch
by Chris Heagle, producer
I rely on happy accidents. This track by the Norwegian band The White Birch is something that has been languishing in one of my iTunes playlists for a couple years. There’s a wistfulness and a kind of yearning in the muffled guitar and piano that start the piece. About 30 seconds in, a soft and clear vocal line appears and becomes the focus of the rest of the song.
Weaving music with lyrics into our show can be tricky. The words have to be just right to support the ideas or the emotional energy present, which is why “Storm-Broken Tree” has been dormant in that playlist for so long.
The end of last week’s show "The Far Shore of Aging" had the potential to be a powerful radio moment. Jane Gross spoke so engagingly about her experience caring for her elderly mother that it was impossible for me (and I’m sure most listeners) not to imagine my own parents and what role I might take on as they age. It “changed the architecture” of her family as she puts it, as well as the nature of her memories of her mother. She ends that thought, and the show, ambiguously saying that “on the one hand it makes me more scared and on the other hand it makes me less scared.” How to support that without being melodramatic or sounding cliche?
Refining the edit while bouncing around my music playlists, this song started playing in my headphones. It immediately felt like the end of this show. Then the vocals started, and I remembered why I hadn’t used this song before. Still, the sound was so perfect that I did a search for the lyrics and found my happy accident.
No need to fall Though battles are won The morning dew will sprawl To taste us all In the morning sun
And we will breathe The smell of those last leaves Weatherworn beauties Claimed by the sea Back from the days you were blown Into me
No need for gall The battle is drawn The morning dew will fall To wake us all What is done is done
And we’ll leave be The smile on the last seed Of the storm-broken tree Like I swore the beauty From that night we were sworn Would go free