Last night I attended the impromptu Sarah McLachlan concert at Chastain Amphitheater (fantastic venue) in Buckhead. Sarah frequently stepped aside to allow her background singer/songwriters their day in the sun and sang a lot of new songs, but she still managed to belt out a few of the old favorites. Sarah always puts her heart into her performances, but you have to wonder how she feels having to reopen 15 years worth of wounds each time she steps on the stage. Though she forges ahead and composes new harmonious pieces of catharsis to move her through new phases of her life, it’s fans like me that force her to remain stuck in her past. Because no matter how good that new album is, we always resist the unfamiliar and find warmth in the old comfortable favorites… regardless of how painful that time was for us. I sat bored and rolled my eyes at Sarah’s new treasured tunes, yet I found myself glaring wistfully and tearing up during her familiar rendition of “Good Enough,” reliving the caustic rejection of the Golden Boys of my late teens. This was the song I came to hear. Why is that old intimate twinge so elusive and alluring that I wanted to wallow in it once again? And who are the “fans” in my life that revel in keeping me stuck in my own past, denying me the salvation of my fresh new endeavors for their own selfish comfort?
It’s distressing for others when we change, even if that change is for the better. Sometimes familiarity, no matter how painful, is easier to deal with than something new and frightening. Just like I wouldn’t let Sarah move on from “Possession,” “Sweet Surrender,” or “Good Enough” there are people in my life that are scared to let me move on from college, post-divorce, or even last spring. But eventually if we listen long enough, that new album begins to grow on us and we find new favorite songs amongst those we first rejected. Such is the same with changing ourselves; we have to give people time to adjust to our new tunes, learn to appreciate the new mix of harmony, and eventually come to love the new release.