The Indigo Girls have been one of my favorite groups since I was in 9th grade and my friend Jenny Prim, with whom I was a candy striper at Fairfax Hospital, gave me a mix tape that included “Blood and Fire,” from their 1989 eponymous cd. I’ve seen them perform live dozens of times in the US and once in London during a show that ended up being part of their live cd 1200 Curfews. I saw them once in the intimate setting of Wait Chapel at Wake Forest when I was visiting my sister while she was in college. I knew my sister really loved me because she bought tickets for us even though she really doesn’t enjoy their music at all, and used to make fun of me for listening to them. I saw Emily Saliers, one of the two Indigo Girls (the other is Amy Ray) and her dad at the National Cathedral talking about music and spirituality. I am a fan. I love their poetic lyrics, the well-knit harmonies, and the feeling that washes over me when I listen to their music.

Not until now, however, have they written a song that I feel describes me. Their newest cd, Beauty Queen Sister, includes “Birthday Song.” I have often been characterized by my genuineness. Some people appreciate that I am a what-you-see-is-what-you get kind of person. Some people disdain this trait. I had a former boss who mocked me for being completely “without guile,” which he saw as a problem when I was trying to write marketing copy. A friend giving me dating advice said I needed to be more mysterious and not so obvious. For better or worse, I am obvious. I am not subtle and not mysterious and I am a terrible liar. Whether you think that’s a weakness or a strength, that’s why I am and I am unapologetic about it.

Thankfully, my husband does appreciate my authenticity, and he says it’s one of the main reasons he married me. So when I heard this song, I felt like it was about me.

Birthday Song (Emily Saliers)

I couldn’t think of a thing to write
On your birthday card
Considered the poets
But they didn’t know what
Lay quite inside my heart
I thought of Atlanta
I thought of Toronto
And all of the places we’ve been
I filled up my tea and looked into the trees
And still came up empty again
So I guess the next time you see me
In a world of partial truths
You will fully believe me
I have nothing to give except but to live
Like the person you know me to be
I can clean up the kitchen
And fold up your clothes
Neatly as I am able
Wrap a box up with ties for a surprise
And order you flowers for the table
I could book us a trip
On a plane or ship
I know how much you love the sun
You could gamble on me
Like the lottery
And I’ll make you feel like you’ve won
And I’ll bet the next time you see me
In a world of partial truths
You will fully believe me
I have nothing to give except but to live
Like the person you know me to be
Life is short and so on
I’d like to give you something to go on
Grow on
They recently paved the walk on our street
We looked at the shiny cement
We stopped the car ready to carve
Our names into permanence
For a moment we’re kids
Intent on a whim
There is no shadowy past
But even so the urge is to go
And put something down
That will last
So here goes
The next time I show up for you
You will know
And believe
I am ready to give
Ready to live
Like the person you know me to be.