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Maggie Roche: Goodbye, Sweet Songbird

By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
(Originally posted 1.23.17)

the rochesA wave of sadness passed through my soul as the news emerged Saturday of the passing of Maggie Roche, the sweet songbird from deepest New Jersey whose singular voice intertwined for decades with her sisters Terre and Suzzy as the Roches. Her beautiful songs, imbued with her loving spirit, will live on.

Marrying lyrical poetry and heaven-sent melodies, Maggie wrote about the human condition, about life’s long and winding road and the twists and turns one takes along the way. From “Hammond Song” and “Quitting Time,” both from the Roches’ 1979 self-titled debut, to the playful “My Winter Coat,” from the sisters’ 1995 album, Can We Go Home Now, her magical perspective and way with words always shone brightly.

So did her sense of humor, through which she communicated all manner of emotion. For proof, look no further than the testament to love that is “My Winter Coat.” Sure, it is ostensibly about a coat whose “fit is generous and loose,” a garment with which to keep warm that is “made of a material that will not rust.”

This is a song about love, of course, sewn up in a garment that makes you feel like you’re “walkin’ around in your bed all day.” There couldn’t possibly be anything better to wrap around you, a point that is communicated in verse after verse punctuated by magical rhymes. “I hope you don’t think I’m merely trying to be clever,” the Roches sing to sew up the story. “I wish this coat would last forever.”

In our lives, we gravitate toward artists who can expand the world to allow us to see more clearly the parts of it that we may not fully understand or appreciate. Artists encourage us to be adventurers, to learn more about ourselves, to step out of our comfort zones and in the process find out more about what makes us who we are.

This is a forever journey that we find ourselves traveling. Through her songs, Maggie Roche was a spirited companion and guide. Safe travels, sweet songbird.


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