Treacherous Road Drove Songwriter To This Song Years ago, songwriter Kate MacLeod was touring in Switzerland and found herself driving on the most treacherous mountain road she'd ever seen. White-knuckled, she clutched the wheel and began to wonder about all the cars that must have gone off this road and why some of us survive dangerous situations while others don't. This question led to other musings about surviving in a complicated world and to a song, "Something Left You Living."
NPR logo

Treacherous Road Drove Songwriter To This Song

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/133913219/133913191" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Treacherous Road Drove Songwriter To This Song

Treacherous Road Drove Songwriter To This Song

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/133913219/133913191" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

LIANE HANSEN, host:

Years ago, songwriter Kate MacLeod was touring in Switzerland and found herself driving on the most treacherous mountain road she'd ever seen. As her white knuckles clutched the wheel, she began to wonder about all the cars that must have gone off this road and why some of us survive dangerous situations while others don't.

That question led to other musings about surviving in a complicated world and to a song, as we hear in this week's Whats in a Song.

(Soundbite of music, "Something Left You Living")

Ms. KATE MACLEOD (Singer-Songwriter): This song is called "Something Left You Living." And if you've ever had your head spun around a few times, or if you're perplexed by the troubles in the world wondering and what on earth are doing here, this song is for you.

(Singing) Theodore thinks he is a king. No subtle thing if there are no kings anymore. And heroes rap at my door...

Heroes rap at my door. They tell me what they think they can do for me.

(Singing) ...they think they can do for me.

There is a bit of cynicism in there. I find that some people that want to help you out, really what they want is something from you for them. It's difficult to wade through these things in this world.

(Singing) The merchant counts your change. Your minutes too are levied. The only sign is leaving the scene.

This song actually doesn't have a story to it. It's more like brushstrokes of phrases. See, I'm trying to express how puzzling the world is in a very cryptic way because the world is very cryptic in its messages to me.

(Singing) Books might tell a tale of fame and glory, but they could be all wrong. And a mother's supervision is sometimes hidden...

This song has a worldview to me. It's almost as if I am saying: Can you believe what you see going on in the world? Or can you see what you believe? These are the kinds of statements I'm bringing up. I don't answer anything, it's not my job.

(Singing) And light can play a trick. You choose you're right. You chose, you're wrong and you're bored.

It's almost like you're playing out this big play. All the world is a stage, where we've got this activity going on and everyone is in costume, including the folk singer.

(Singing) You could have died that day. But something kept you living, left you living.

HANSEN: Whats in a Song is produced by Hal Cannon and Taki Telonidis of the Western Folklife Center.

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Im Liane Hansen.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.