If warm Manitoba summer nights had a sound, it might probably be exactly this.
Manitoba singer/songwriter Paul Bergman has released a new song today, ‘I just want to walk in the dark with you’.
The song lulls at first before suddenly taking you directly into another world.
Loud with quiet.
It brings to mind ripples on a moonlit pond… leaves at the very top of towering cottonwoods, rustling in a midnight breeze… gravel crunching underfoot, with each slow step. Crickets in the ditches and whippoorwills calling in the distance.
Somehow it captures the feeling of being outside with just one very specific person — an enchantment that takes me directly into the time when I first met Andrew in a crowd, and we escaped to walk together. I’m sure in hearing this song, each person will be drawn into their own individual memory.
Lately, Paul Bergman’s social media has been busier than usual, with reflections upon the making and release of this song, and allusions to an inviting sonic landscape, warm writing, ebbing dissonance…
I’ve stolen some of his words, on walking at twilight:
“The world seems gentler then, the light neither too bright nor too absent… that mystical, liminal time between day and night.”
The words “mystical” and “liminal” resonate with me in particular because, though the first impressions of this song are romantic, for me this song brings to mind my all-too-recent nighttime pandemic visits to the window of a dear friend in her last days. Walking to her house along a route we once walked together. A route which indeed once was a Mennonite street village path.
Those encounters were mystical… liminal… fueled by a desire to spend more time with her.
For me, this song captures this feeling so well.
Yet at the same time, I find myself wishing Andrew and I could have selected it for our wedding.
Here Paul Bergman shares the story of the creation of this song:
“‘I just want to walk in the dark with you’ began in the spring of 2006. I was living in a street-village, feeling charmed by the way the light faded in the evening under the canopying cottonwood trees. I was listening to Greg Brown and Tom Waits. That summer the song was recorded for the ‘Rootbound’ record, though it didn’t make it onto that album. The following spring I played it as my sister walked down the aisle at her wedding.
“The song then stayed in a relatively static state until the summer of 2017 when, with the help of Andrew Braun, it was revisited with additional instrumentation – the rollicking ‘Stand by me’ bass and the droning synths were particularly helpful in breathing life into it – and the tempo was increased. Over the next couple of years, the basic structure remained the same though some of the chords evolved into more nuanced versions of themselves, while the lyrics underwent a similar evolution. These adjustments, in conjunction with the increased ambiance and ambivalence of the recording, helped allow the song to come to fruition.
“Then, in early 2020, the song underwent the first of a number of mixes. It eventually came to light that the tempo was still too slow, so, with that amended, by late that autumn ‘I just want to walk in the dark with you’ was finally ready enough to step out into the world.”
Today, ‘I just want to walk in the dark with you’ makes its debut. Listen here:
A related Mennotoba post:
Paul Bergman’s song ‘Creeping Charlie’ is Important & Beautiful