Tift Merritt: “Icarus”

Today’s song of the day is “Icarus” by Tift Merritt. The song takes the story of Icarus in Greek mythology as its inspiration.

In Greek mythology, Daedalus created wings for him and his son Icarus to escape a tower where they were imprisoned. Because the wings were made of feathers and wax, Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too low, where the seas would wet the wings, or too high, where the warming sun would melt the wax. Once in the air, though, Icarus forgot his father’s warning and began flying higher and higher. The sun then melted the wax, the wings fell off, and Icarus fell to the sea and drowned. The story is often used as a warning against hubris (flying too high).

NPR describes Merritt’s version of the story as “not Greek mythology’s tragic tale of hubris, but rather an expression of the impulse to cradle a fragile spirit and nurse it back to health.” But recently at MerleFest, Merritt did invoke the theme of hubris in describing the song.

She explained that the song is about dreaming versus hubris. Adding a political note, Merritt added that at least Icarus was dreaming, but certain modern political figures define what hubris really is.  I wonder who she means?

A rush of breath, a turn of touch;
The up and down arch of loving so much;
The way your heart will race and rise;
A tear handing in long, slow dive.

Oh Icarus,
There’s a wing down in each of us;
Faster than the speed of sound inside,
Everything flies.

“Icarus” is from Tift Merritt’s album, Stitch of the World, released in January 2017.

Image of Jacob Peter Gowy’s The Flight of Icarus painting via public domain. What is your favorite Tift Merritt song? Leave your two cents in the comments.