Updated: Oct 23, 2020
Music has always felt more than a little witchy to me, and songs have always felt more like spells in their power to conjure and transform. Take the (cast-off!) Tom Waits tune, “You Can Never Hold Back Spring” – a seemingly simple song about reawakening and the inevitability of renewal. At first listen, it's an easy song to enjoy; a sweet melody with its straight-forward and wise lyric. If you really pay attention, however, you can find a lot more going on. Take the first verse:
You can never hold back spring
You can be sure
I will nev-er
There, in the third and fourth lines, the rhymes are held back by one syllable each. The song itself makes us wait (just a bit) for the satisfying resolution to the rhyme, just as winter sometimes tries to suspend the warmth of spring. And just like that, the song is no longer only a description of hope, but a demonstration as well – an embodiment. There is something spell-like that is taking place here, and which takes place inside me when I hear it.