A breakup song

November 18, 2013
(Wikimedia Commons)
(Wikimedia Commons)

You have relationships with certain songs, albums, artists. Maybe it’s a record that got you through a bad time. Maybe it’s something you played at your wedding. Those songs belong to you, you think.

Monday, British progressive folk-rock singer and guitarist Roy Harper, 72, was in court facing charges that he sexually assaulted a girl younger than 13 back in the 1970s. Harper denies the charges.

Who is this old guy? Well, he’s part of the reason Nick Drake and Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin sounded the way they did. He’s part of the reason Fleet Foxes and Bright Eyes and Joanna Newsom sound like they do. He was a pioneer of the stuff that’s the foundation of indie rock today.

He also wrote a song that was “mine,” 1971’s “Me and My Woman.” It’s 13 minutes long and is the theme of the nonsense land where people in love live, where “He spreads her a shelter/ She takes the tall skies/ As they helter skelter/ Along the same sighs.”

People still love R. Kelly and Chris Brown. The lists of artists and degrees of offenses are long. You decide how to reconcile the artist with the art.

I’d usually be mad about this latest news, disgusted on a political level. But I loved that song. I felt love in it. When I listen to it now, that’s not there. More than anything, I’m sad that is broken.

Connect with Shauna and Sound Bets on Twitter @Shaunajmiller.

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Marissa Payne · November 18, 2013