Song of the Day: Wilco’s “Country Disappeared”

Posted on November 28, 2011


Unattended vehicles are safe in the streets of Shanghai foto@me

From the sweet, sad album of the same name, “Country Disappeared” was essentially my introduction to this great band. I listened to it over and over in the first few days after I moved to Shanghai. I used to live in the outskirts of the city, and I remember listening to it on the tuk-tuk (san lun che) to the nearest metro station, juddering through the noisy, colourful village market presided over by a large orange-purple sunset. It came to represent everything I left behind and all that was new and exciting in my life. It’s quite bittersweet to me.

Anyhow, my time here draws to an end and I’m contemplating my next move. The country isn’t disappearing, but I will have to leave it behind, hopefully not consigned to dustballs in the corners of my memory as I move on to other things.

Also this reminds me of a gorgeous poem, so stunning in its simplicity. It’s from In Her Shoes, a rom-com-ish movie starring Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz.

Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three beloved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

— Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) a disaster.

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