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SongSpells, Op. 4: “Santa Fe”

Santa Fe, why did you call me here?
I spent so long without a home.
And I was wandering, 
I couldn’t find no comfort,
And I felt so far away.

Santa Fe, oh, Santa Fe,
City of ancient spirits,
It’s time, now, to send these roots down - 
Bless them, I pray.
Oh Santa Fe, yes, I will stay.

Santa Fe, I promise I will love you
And I’ll respect your ancient ways.
I just want to grow old
In an earthen home.
Till my soul returns
To sand and clay.

Oh, Santa Fe,
City of ancient spirits,
It’s time, now, to send these roots down -
Bless them, I pray,
Oh Santa Fe, yes I will stay.

Oh, Santa Fe,
Wrap me in the billows of your sky.
Oh, Santa Fe,
Gather me together while I cry,

Oh, Santa Fe,
City of ancient spirits,
It’s time, now, to send these roots down -
Bless them, I pray.
Oh Santa Fe, yes, I will stay.

I’ve always had a very strong sense of place. I can feel the spirit, the special energy of a city, a town, a mountain, anyplace. And, I easily fall in love. And, I don’t know how to leave. We moved a few times when I was a kid and my heart broke every time. After a while, I started to feel like I couldn’t get connected to places the way I used to. I thought maybe the sense of disconnection was just a part of growing up. I thought that since I didn’t spend as much time playing imaginative games in every nook and cranny of a place, I wasn’t getting to know those places like I used to. I wondered if I would ever again have that sense of deep connection – of home. 

As an adult I wanted to find a career that would let me stay in one place. But in my search, I ended up moving far more often than I had as a child. I felt a restlessness creeping in, a sense that I would perhaps never find home. In 2020 I got wind of the fact that I could simply decide to work remotely, and I became determined to find a welcoming place, where I would be able to afford my home and gather around me a support network to help raise my son. I found Santa Fe.

Here, I fell in love. I have finally begun to feel again that deep connection to the spirit of a place that I used to feel as a child. I feel myself gathering together the bits of my broken heart, and I feel the spirit of this place supporting my healing. There’s nothing I want more than to simply stay put, here. To see these gorgeous mountains, billowing clouds, and precious city nestled amongst them, every day for the rest of my life. 

One day last Fall, as I drove to a street on the outskirts of town that overlooked the beautiful city and stepped out of my car to make a delivery, I looked out at the gorgeous view and sang to myself, “Santa Fe…” And I just kept singing to her, saying how I felt. As I drove through the city making deliveries that day, I kept chewing on different words and lines as they came to me. Late at night I looked for chords and began to give the melody a shape. Love is always my motivation for writing a song. In this song, I imagined the spirit of Santa Fe as a woman, and everything I needed to say became clear. 

I remember reading in my Master’s degree studies about ancient Greek lullabies. I read that in this ancient culture there was a sense of language as being performative… saying a thing was a force in itself, that could make it happen. And so when a mother sang words in a lullaby naming that her child would sleep deeply and then wake in the morning, she was actually casting a spell. A spell that would not only make her child sleep, but would make sure that her child woke again, alive and well. 

When I sing now and write songs, I feel a connection to those ancient mothers. I let my words become spells. In this song, I am telling Santa Fe that I will stay here, with her, forever. And in my singing it, I am making it so. In an early version I sang, “please let me stay.” But I realized that dwelling within those words was a creeping anxiety and worry that maybe Santa Fe wouldn’t love me back. I knew I had to set aside those fears, and so I changed the words to “Yes, I will stay.” And so I will.

This was the first song I wrote when I came here, and it opened up the floodgates for me. Before this time I had written maybe one song every two years, if that, and most of them had been forgotten. But here in Santa Fe the songs have been flowing and I now have at least an album’s worth of songs I love, just written over a few months. I feel like Santa Fe is blessing me, supporting me in these songs. They are becoming the center of my life’s work. And it is through singing my songs that I will, indeed, get to stay. 

It’s time, now, to send these roots down – Bless them, I pray. Oh Santa Fe, yes, I will stay.