One Safe Place (30 Days of Marc Cohn — Day 9)

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One Safe Place
Live 04/05

This is a gentle song, far from the usual brash rock that marks his other guitar songs.  It’s also one Marc seems to strum in concert himself, rather than leaving it to Shane Fontayne.  As in many other of Marc’s song, there is a palpable sense of longing in this one, but it’s not for a lover or a lost relative.  It’s a yearning for a place, but more than a place — a state of being, a state of grace.

How many roads you’ve traveled
How many dreams you’ve chased
Across sand and sky and gravel
Looking for one safe place
One safe place

This is an ode from one weary traveler to another.  Or maybe from one weary traveler to himself.  Is it a song of admonishment and chiding?  Or of grudging admiration and hope?  Are those roads paths of despair or of homecoming?

Will you make a smoother landing
When you break your fall from grace
Into the arms of understanding
Looking for one safe place
One safe place

It’s “when”, not “if”, you break your fall from grace.  The fall is inevitable; the destination is not.  And it’s not just a fall, or a fall from grace — it’s a fall into the arms of understanding… it’s a leap of faith ending in a catch.

Oh life is trial by fire
And love’s the sweetest taste
And I pray it lifts us higher
To one safe place
One safe place
One safe place

This is quintessential Cohn:  Life is trial by fire.  It’s never easy and it’s never smooth.  But there’s always hope for love, hope from love.  And hope is all he offers — just a prayer, not a surety, that we can end higher than we began — higher than our fall into the arms of understanding, lifte up by those same arms.

How many roads we’ve traveled
How many dreams we’ve chased
Across sand and sky and gravel
Looking for one safe place
One safe place
One safe place

(As an aside, I thought I remembered him saying once that this song was commissioned as, or even purchased as, the theme song to a tv show.  But I can’t find anything about that anywhere so I might be making it up.)

 

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4 thoughts on “One Safe Place (30 Days of Marc Cohn — Day 9)”

  1. He sang it to his wife at their wedding. Which he noticed he had composed for her — before they met. ”It was about my wish to meet someone like her,” he said.