Sunday, December 9, 2007



When I lived in Toronto and was attending university downtown one of my favourite places to sit and ponder the universe was the Church of the Holy Trinity and the adjacent Trinity Square courtyard. The church is a historical gem that sits nestled within the Toronto Eaton Centre courtyard. This beautiful neo-gothic church, built in 1847 was thankfully spared in the 1970's when the Eaton Centre was forced to redraw its plans, and build around it.

The church and courtyard are a sacred place to me, a hidden oasis amongst the commercial bustle of Yonge Street. It was a marvelous place to bring lunch, to read or simply sit and watch life go on around you. I was drawn to it originally via the fabulous Trinity Sessions album by the Cowboy Junkies, which was recorded there in the mid-80's and became an instant classic, in part thanks to the excellent acoustics of the building that was conducive to the band recording the album centered around one microphone.

The music, like the building, is also sacred to me. It was one of my favourite albums of the 80's. It didn't fit much of the formula that characterised much of the other music of that era that I listened to. With standard blues, country and folk songs being reinterpreted, it opened up new possibilities for me around what music could mean. Needless to say, the cover version of The Velvet Underground's Sweet Jane is sublime.

I recently picked up the album Trinity Revisited, which celebrated the 20th anniversary of the album by having the band and special guests (Natalie Merchant, Ryan Adams, Vic Chesnutt) revisited the Church and re-record the album. The new interpretations are marvelous, bringing new sonic elements to the songs while still capturing the album's original spirit. The concert film that accompanies it is also breathtaking, with the musician sitting in a circle surrounded by beautiful stained glass and streams of light that flicker in and out.

Thankfully, music is a scared space for me as well, and both the Trinity Sessions and Trinity Revisited are places that I can return to from time to time. As the years plow forward I am increasingly amazed at how strong and persistent are the associations that live in my mind with certain music. With the original album I think of some very key people and places that are a living and breathing part of the music for me, inextricably linked to my experience every time I listen.

With the newer interpretations on Trinity Revisited I am reminded of the importance of revisiting sacred places and rediscovering what it is about these places that awakened something within me in the first place. Its an important journey to take, as it leads me to places where I can catch a glimpse of, or perhaps briefly listen to the sounds of the divine here on earth.

(Here is clip fom YouTube with some highlights from the Trinity Revisited video)

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