Too Late for Tonight / Early Years - Laura Cantrell
Having had a room full of modern day troubador men in that bar in Mission beach, it's only right that we should think about the women that could have been there. We can imagine Gillian Welch at a table in the corner chatting with David Rawlings over a beer, Laura Marling surveying the room, reclining with her back on the jukebox, Emmylou Harris swapping stories with Joni Mitchell as they lean on the bar, and at the back, by the door to the toilets, Laura Nyro singing softly but funkily while playing the honky tonk stand-up. We'll come back to them later. But for now we're looking at a shy, well turned out lady, who has the air of someone who's not sure she's in the right place, or has maybe been stood up.
Laura Cantrell is best when she's picking over relationships long gone, or on the verge of turning into something else. With her the words are simple, and uncomplicated, like Emily Dickinson and therefore no less poetic for that. But it's all in the phrasing (like Emily Dickinson), and the musing and mulling over what could have been and what might be.
She's at home of an evening alone, going off to sleep perhaps, remembering someone she nearly got to together with once, but sees and knows that any time soon it's going to happen. This is a song about sweet anticipation:
"....You brought me home one night and left me standing on your stairs - turned around to lock your door - but I wasn't even there that was a long time ago I'm thinking, laughing - and I miss you so - and I'm all right - but I can't close my eyes - and it's too late for tonight.......
.......Was it BJ, 1972?
he's wishing, he's hoping - and he's feeling blue
and I'm floating - on a sweet lullaby
and it's too late for tonight...
oh, goodnight, my dear, goodnight"
At only 2.31, we need a little more of the same, this time a gentle reminiscence of a relationship long gone. Listen out for the gorgeous contrapuntal dialogue between the guitars in the midway section, the guitars celebrating their harmony, one taking the tune, the other arpeggioing around it in response.
The song finishes on the moment when she "saw the weather change" and knew it was all over, catching it like a butterfly on a pin:
"...but sometimes, I feel, the coldest chill I got was the look upon your face - across the parking lot and your sweet voice - I still remember but not the words - I heard you say we never made it - through December at the end of the early years..."
"....those early years - those heady days they rolled from one into another - then walked away I was so naive - but I felt so strong - way back in the early years"
If that isn't bittersweet, what is?