Ashes: Lindi Ortega’s Great Song Heard In The Great Outdoors

This is a story about life’s little surprises, about how one thing leads to another. In this gentle instance an unexpected impulse to relocate my duff from indoors to outside resulted in my hearing a song that I can’t get out of my head.

There’s something naturally relaxing about sitting outdoors when the weather is pleasant. Some people sit in parks, some on beaches, some a few feet from doors to their homes. One of my pals lives in Philadelphia in an old comfortable house, a sprawling place with a front porch. On evenings when the Philadelphia Phillies are taking the field, my friend positions himself in a porch chair, balances a small radio on a table beside him and turns on the Phillies station. He remains there till the game is over. This routine helps him stay calm.

A scene at dusk: Cheez-Its, iced tea and portable radio on the deck table behind my house. Photograph by Sandra Cherrey Scheinin
A scene at dusk: Cheez-Its, iced tea and portable radio on the deck table behind my house.
Photograph by Sandra Cherrey Scheinin

I should emulate my friend’s fresh air example more often. I used to sit outside frequently, mostly on the deck behind my house, but haven’t much in the last few years. Most of my sitting and downtime in that stretch has taken place on the sofa in my living room. On a recent Monday night, however, a powerful urge to visit the great outdoors came out of nowhere, and so I stepped onto the deck as dusk was settling in, and sat at the deck table. The temperature was ideal, the evening peaceful. At least ten houses are within 100 feet of the deck, but they became less and less visible through the trees as blackness approached. These were conditions that agreed with my inner yearnings. That is, I felt isolated, away from it all. And three things made the scenario even better: Food, beverage and music. Munching on Cheez-Its,  sipping iced tea and, most important to this story, listening to my portable radio, I was as relaxed as I’m capable of becoming. The radio was tuned to WXPN.

In the Philadelphia region WXPN is the go-to station for rock, folk, blues and nearly any other non-Ariana Grande musical genre you can name. XPN plays everything from The Beatles to Mavis Staples to Caetano Veloso to Laura Marling. And the station makes it a mission to keep up with the continual avalanche of recorded music from established and never-heard-of-them-before musicians. Airing on XPN as I sat beneath the stars and amidst pulsating fireflies was a program showcasing nothing but new songs. And the tune that issued from my radio at about 9:00 PM swept me from my state of relaxation to a much higher plane.

There are certain songs over the years that infatuated me from the moment I first heard them. In 1968 it was Jumpin’ Jack Flash, by the Stones. To this day it stirs me up every time I hear it. California Stars, by Billy Bragg and Wilco (and lyrics by Woody Guthrie), brought me to my knees in 1998. I’ve added another number to the list of instant infatuations, all praise to WXPN’s new music show. The song is Ashes. Its singer and writer is Lindi Ortega. Ashes overwhelmed me on my deck. I think that the calm within and without me had unlocked fully the doorways to my emotions and ushered Ashes in. From its opening notes, Ashes in a good way made me shiver and melt. It went straight to my truest spaces.

I had come across Lindi Ortega’s name in print in the past but wasn’t familiar with her music. As I’ve learned, she’s a Canadian now living in Nashville and plays and composes smart country-hued material à la Emmylou Harris and Patty Griffin. With Ashes she and her production team have created a wonder, a stirring song about the need for love, the pain of loss. The heartbeat bass lines, the steady tension-inducing drumming, Lindi’s pleading and impassioned vocals that grow as the song develops, the soul-gripping guitar solo at the song’s three minute mark . . . Ashes to me is perfection. “Darling, this is madness, why don’t you come back to me?/Don’t leave me in the ashes of your memory.” Indeed. Indeed. When Lindi next appears in or around Philadelphia I’ll be at the show. For now, I’ll listen to Ashes on YouTube, where Lindi has gifted it to the world in advance of its release next month on her album Faded Gloryville. I recommend that you do the same. Here is Ashes:

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14 thoughts on “Ashes: Lindi Ortega’s Great Song Heard In The Great Outdoors

  1. Aunt Beulah July 26, 2015 / 5:47 pm

    Great essay on the value of outdoor sitting and a great song from a singer I didn’t know — but intend to become acquainted with. Thanks, Neil.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. yeahanotherblogger July 26, 2015 / 7:39 pm

    I’m glad you liked this article.

    As it turns out, Lindi Ortega will be performing next month at a concert series about 30 miles from where I live. My wife and I will be there!

    Like

  3. Opher July 28, 2015 / 6:37 pm

    Listening to it now. Sounds brilliant – Thanks Opher

    Liked by 1 person

  4. tengel265 October 26, 2015 / 11:48 pm

    A nice piece. Ortega reminds me a little of Neosho Case, but I hear Emmy Lou as well. Thanks for introducing a new voice.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Brian Lageose January 17, 2016 / 1:00 am

    Very nice. Bit of Lucinda Williams in there as well. (And kudos to your setting of the scene, good job.)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. colleenldonnelly February 9, 2016 / 5:20 pm

    It’s nice when you stop by and visit my blog. It brings me back to yours and your style of conveying a slice of life. Very nice. I enjoy the way you share. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Becky June 9, 2016 / 11:52 pm

    This is lovely. Nature and music are a beautiful pairing, aren’t they? “There are certain songs over the years that infatuated me from the moment I first heard them” – this sentence struck a particular chord with me as it is the driving force behind the majority of my draft posts (many of which are about Beatles songs). It’s a feeling that I crave and one that seems to have become more elusive over the years. Anyway, I really enjoyed reading about your experience of finding a song that resonates with you. You painted a lovely picture. CBC Radio introduced me to Lindi Ortega with “Little Red Boots” a few years back. I haven’t followed her music but she is definitely a talent.

    Liked by 1 person

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