How the Innocence Mission befriended me

 The very first time I ever heard The Innocence Mission I was having a secret cigarette in the back garden of my parents house at night during christmas. I knew from the first thirty seconds of music that this was special. This was Conor music. This was really great stuff. This was also badly needed as a large family gets wonderfully hectic at christmas time.I had read a review in Uncut (my favourite music magazine) that raved about their album ‘Befriended’ so I wrote down their name and eventually bought it without ever having heard a note. And I adored it instantly. It’s an album of such delicate beauty that the strength of the melodies can almost disarm of you of any other thoughts. The Innocence Mission are probably the most aptly named group I know of.  Their music actually sounds of innocence. Karen’s voice floats about the notes like a determined and focused butterfly. The music is lushly sparse with the notes often used as if punctuating the melody. Often one note will be played just after a line is sung as if to throw further light on the meaning. And it does, it manages to concentrate all your emotions around that one note.

This is soft, sweet and incredibly exciting music. Innocent, like it says on the tin. They have written some of the most beautiful songs I know with lyrics as touching as magical as the music itself.

“There’s a sudden joy that’s like a fish, a moving light;
I thought I saw it rowing on the lakes of Canada” from Lakes of Canada

 

“Song about Travelling” 

 

A man said Why, why does traveling

in cars and in trains make him feel sad,

a beautiful sadness.

I’ve felt this before.

It’s the people in the cities you’ll never know,

it is everything you pass by,

wondering will you ever return.

The colors of rowboats, the greens and the blues.

Orange grove side streets you only see halfway.

And beaches in winter

and when kites are flown.

It’s the people in the cities you’ll never know,

it is everything you pass by,

wondering will you ever return

 

I have long given up the nasty habit of smoking but along with that cigarette I ignited a love for this group that has been deepening and evolving ever since. After Befriended I began discovering some old albums of theirs like ‘Birds of my Neighbourhood’ and ‘Small Planes’. Each as wonderful as the other. This year saw them bring out another album, ‘We Walked in Song’. It comes as no surprise that I haven’t heard anything quite as enchanting all year as this. It seems their mission goes on. May it do so for some time to come.

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