While I caught and understood some phrases, the song as a whole remained foreign. But my heart raced ahead, deriving meanings my head could not. At times the song was a lullaby, sometimes a despairing dirge, at other times a lament for a love lost. I found myself drawn to the song when I as alone at home, moping round or when on a long ride with my son and he was close to falling asleep.
Sharanya's column, Songs in Another Language, instantly reminded me of my obsession with La Complainte and smoothed out the rough edges of my understanding.
Perhaps there is something to be said for innocent impressionism. When a song is heard as sound and not story, something special happens. Its semantic spaces broaden. Our understanding draws blanks, and our imaginations fill them in. The human voice becomes an instrument in its own right. The whisper of a throat racked with failure can turn seductive; the grieving crescendo of a mourning song may rouse instead.