Kiss a sunset pig – why singer-songwriters dream about home

I’ve been wondering why so many singer-songwriters want to go home. Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Carole King – these are just a few on the current rotation of notnicolajames who sing about home in one way or another.

I’m going to see the folks I dig
I’ll even kiss a Sunset pig
California I’m coming home

You absolutely need to listen to wonderful Joni Mitchell, who wants to go home to “California”. The Canadian-born singer moved to the West coast of the U.S. early in her career, and every time she travels to Paris, Spain or Greece, she thinks about home.

Carole King even doubted she would ever make it home again. The singer-songwriter is originally from NYC but lived in various parts of the U.S. On her album Tapestry she hopes to be “Home Again” soon.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m ever gonna make it home again
It’s so far and out of sight
I really need someone to talk to, and nobody else
Knows how to comfort me tonight …
… I wanna be home again and feeling right

James Taylor sings about North Carolina (where he was born) without mentioning the word “home”, but the song has the same feel. If you listen to the live version of the song you can hear him explaining that he was in Spain when he wrote the song, and he was very homesick. Whenever he’s away from home, in his mind he’s going to Carolina, where he can feel the moonshine, see the sunshine. Carolina is like of friend of his.

Suicidal tendencies away from home

According to singer-songwriters, being away from home is so horrible it could make anyone feel suicidal:

Too old and cold and settled in its ways (Mitchell)
Lonely (Mitchell)
Dark (Taylor)
Cold, wet (King)
Chills my soul right to the marrow (King)
Emptiness (Simon and Garfunkel)

Just life-on-the-road self-pity?

I can imagine many reasons for singing about home. Some surely have to do with traveling, missing friends and family. No one wants to be with strangers as Joni Mitchell and Simon and Garfunkel sing. Joni wants to “to see the folks I dig”. Carole King needs “someone to talk to”. So this would fall under the category homesick as we all know it. Listen to Simon and Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound”:

Homeward bound
I wish I was. Homeward bound
Home, where my thought’s escaping
Home, where my music’s playing
Home, where my love lies waiting
Silently for me

For musicians there’s obviously the constant touring which makes you think of home, and, as the Guardian put it, expressing “life-on-the-road self-pity”.

Read more

Next: But is it just about being homesick? Isn’t home also about letting your guard down, and feeling accepted? Look out for my next post where I discuss if you can only really be yourself when you are at home.

Check out my list of songs about home in the mixed tapes series.

(Header illustration generously provided by my artist friend Kripa Joshi.The picture is called “Transport for London”.)


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6 thoughts on “Kiss a sunset pig – why singer-songwriters dream about home

  1. Pingback: Where love lies waiting – the ultimate playlist for songs about home « notnicolajames

  2. Great piece! Especially just before heading home for Christmas 🙂 The first one that sprung to mind was ‘From Clare to here’ – a folk song on Irish emigration. Originally written by Ralph McTell, but my favourite version is by Nanci Griffith (also a singer-songwriter):

  3. Ok so I’ve been thinking of a few songs for your topic:

    The Dixie Chicks: Wide Open Spaces,

    Sheryl Crow: Home:

    Gordon Lightfoot: Alberta Bound (My Home):

    Also, while they do not have songs directly about home, here are a few amazing Canadian female singer song writers who you have not likely heard of:

    The Ghost Bee’s:

    I also recomend Lowel, who is an up and coming singer song writer who used to live across the street from me, and has an amazingvoice:

  4. S. Tabbasum on said:

    I would recommend Tony Bennett’s ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’:

  5. Pingback: Singer-songwriters, fight to keep your soul! « notnicolajames

  6. Pingback: Michael Kiwanuka: He’s getting ready « notnicolajames

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