Old Skin, Young Memory

yewbark1, originally uploaded by katiemuffett.

You can see just how dark and alive the yew forest was from this shot. It’s impossible not to stroke the branches like this one. They’re incredibly strong, and they don’t seem cold somehow. The topmost layer is cool with moisture, but it’s very much alive.

For those who might be interested, my settings inside the forest were pretty much these – where I could get dappled sunlight as in this shot:
f/2, 1/60s (35mm, ISO 100)

Regarding the image sountrack: I absolutely love Laura Marling, but with one concern: she is hailed as being ‘talented beyond her years’ (she’s 19). I have a feeling this has been a mantra she has heard all her life. Her lyrics often attempt to describe a very old and weary soul, which are rather a giveaway (to anyone who thinks 1990 was five minutes ago) as to how young she really is.

A great comparison: Joni Mitchell was 26 when she recorded ‘Both Sides Now’ – a song ostensibly told from an old woman’s perspective as she reflects on her life. Even listening to this track on my parents’ hi-fi when I was in my teens, I could tell that this was a very young person’s notion of old age. Joni’s words and voice were too tremulous compared to the strength and resilience I heard in real elderly people when they talked about their past.

Yet rather than this affectation lessening the consequence of these songs, it is probably a more candid insight into the minds of Laura and Joni in their youth than an autobiographical tune. As young women, they revealed that they wanted to gain insight into what they ingenuously believed to be ‘mature’ old age. They wanted to dig deeper into the human experience, even if it was at the time out of their reach.

I mentioned that this was a ‘concern’ I had for Laura Marling: to best define what I mean by this I will reference a piece of advice Joni Mitchell was herself given by a writing teacher:

After writing an epic poem, Mitchell got it back covered in red circles, with “cliché” written next to phrases such as “White as newly fallen snow” and “High upon a silver shadowed hill.” Legions of Mitchell fans can thank the teacher for this bit of dead-on advice: “Write about what you know, it’s more interesting.” (salon.com)

While it is a wonder that a teenager composed a song like ‘Old Stone’, the lyrics would sing more true if they boldly conveyed a sensitive and creative teenager’s real heart and mind.

Little saplings know little of ancient yews.

Image Soundtrack: ‘Old Stone’ by Laura Marling

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