I went to a funeral last week. As everyone filed out, they played a song I’d never heard called “On Eagle’s Wings.” An older couple behind me sang along, their voices low and close in my ear: “He will raise you up on eagle’s wings, bear you on the breath of dawn.” The next day I got a voicemail from my mother. She sometimes calls and asks me to look up something on the internet.
“The rain carried on falling, keeping customers away. The rain fell softly, then heavily, then softly. Static hisses on telephone lines. Jimmy Cobb’s percussion on ‘Blue in Green.’” The record shop clerk in David Mitchell’s “Ghostwritten” thinks a lot about music. It makes a place in his head, refuge from a bustling Tokyo.
There’s a David Sedaris story called “Hejira.” As it begins, he tells us, "After six months spent waking at noon, getting high, and listening to the same Joni Mitchell record over and over again, I was called by my father into his den and told to get out." The record in question was, of course, “Hejira.” It also deals with leaving home, breaking off relations, migrating. The title is an Arabic word referring to an earlier journey made by another soul who felt estranged - Mohammed's flight from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD.