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October 2023
Vol. 23, No. 1


Songs I Wish I Wrote – Peter Bolland

February 2015

On S​aturday, March 7th a​t 7:30pm San Diego Folk Heritage will host Peter Bolland and Cindy Lee Berryhill, two of San Diego’s finest songwriters. The all-ages event will take place at San Dieguito United Methodist Church (170 Calle Magdalena, Encinitas, CA 92024). Admission is $15 for members and $18 standard, available at the door or online.

In anticipation of Saturday’s concert, we caught up with Peter Bolland (who also happens to be one of our contributors – read his latest column here) and asked him to participate in our “Songs I Wish I Wrote” blog series. Check out his selections and thoughtful explanations below!

Peter Bolland: Songs I Wish I Wrote

1. River — Joni Mitchell
“The supreme masterpiece of confessional song writing. She perfectly bridges the personal and universal. In song writing, that’s the Holy Grail. When you listen to it, it sounds like your best friend talking to you about their deepest aching and longing. Yet there’s still a wistful lightness about it. It doesn’t sink under the weight of its own gravitas. And it also captures one of my favorite themes — the redemptive power of nature. That song is a miracle.”

2. Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen
Everybody writes about the mystery of love, but no other song has ever come this close to getting it right. And how every kind of love is related to every other kind of love — personal, carnal, sacred. The kind of love that wants to possess. The kind of love that wants to liberate. And the confusion swirling through all of it. Great songs like this lift you into new understandings. Yet when you try to articulate those new understandings you can’t. You just listen to the song again and nod in agreement.  I love how this song is fearless in its willingness to tackle all the big themes — truth, language, God, art, beauty, love. Leonard Cohen has balls. And he absolutely pulls it off. When I hear songs like this I just shake my head in amazement.”

3. Birds – Neil Young
“Nobody does bittersweet like Neil. This haunting lament about that strange mix of emotions surrounding the end of a relationship captures the whole bloody mess with a simple, repetitive melody, and lifting chorus, and lyrics that perfectly encapsulate the way you wish them well, and you wish them love, even though it isn’t going to be with you. Neil makes you fall in love with both characters — the protagonist, and his ex-lover. You see both sides. And the noble truth that real love never seeks to harm or possess. Love is gentle, love is kind. You feel like you know these people. They come to life. They seem more real than half the people you know in your real life. That’s the magic of a great song.”

Peter is a San Diego treasure, both in writing and in song. We encourage you to support him and local music by attending his live San Diego Folk Heritage performance this Saturday! Tickets available here.