…my life, it’s only a season

The first recorded (English language) usage of the word “serendipity” was in a letter, dated 28 January 1754, from English historian, Horace Walpole to British Diplomat, Horace Mann.  Walpole claimed to have taken it from the Persian fairy tale, “The Three Princes of Serendip” whose protagonists were “always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.”  Serendip was an old name for Ceylon, which is an old name for Sri Lanka.

Which is all to say that “serendipity” is a pleasant surprise, or happy accident.   As noted medical research Julius Comroe once put it, serendipity is to “look for a needle in a haystack and get out of it with the farmer’s daughter.”

For me, discovering today’s selection was an example of serendipity.  In the early/mid part of the last decade, before trusting my livelihood to the wonderful world of Mac, I subscribed to Napster (which was only available to MS Windows users) and having heard Iris DeMent’s “Let the Mystery Be,” I was looking for more of her work.  When I came across “My Life” with her name listed, I assumed it was her version.  Instead I was introduced to this rendition, sung by D.C. Anderson, and it was pleasant surprise indeed.

Based in New York, David Cameron (D.C.) Anderson is a Broadway actor (including “Phantom of the Opera”, “Nicholas Nickleby” and “Pippin”) and a cabaret and folksinger/songwriter who has recorded nearly a dozen albums.  Today’s selection comes from his 1997 release, “The Box Under the Bed,” and I quickly discovered that I liked it even better than the DeMent original, which was the closing track on her 1994 (Grammy Award nominated) album, “My Life.”

Born in Paragould, Arkansas in 1961 (but bred in Cypress, California) and raised in a Pentecostal household, Iris DeMent was her father’s fourteenth child and her mother’s eighth.  Although heavily influenced by gospel and country music, her themes have long explored religious skepticism (she considers herself to be a Christian agnostic), small town life, human frailty and something we could all stand a little more of (whether in reference to others or to ourselves)…understanding and forgiveness.


My Life

 My life, it don’t count for nothing

When I look at this world, I feel so small

My life, it’s only a season

A passing September that no one will recall

But I gave joy to my mother

And I made my lover smile

And I can give comfort to my friends when they’re hurting

And I can make things seem better for a while

My life, it’s half the way traveled

And still I have not found my way out of this night

My life, it’s tangled in wishes

And so many things that just never turned out right

 But I gave joy to my mother

And I made my lover smile

And I can give comfort to my friends when they’re hurting

And I can make things seem better for a while

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