Tyler Stenson: Best Laid Plans
Tyler Stenson, "Best Laid Plans"
Tyler Stenson, from Wyoming, writes "elegant folk," and his songs are lovely. I first encountered his music during a documentary I watched—The Camino: Six Ways to Santiago. It follows six pilgrims who walk the 500 mile trek through the Pyrenees from France to the tomb of St. James (the apostle and brother of Jesus) in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Pilgrims have been walking this route for 1,200 years. Some of the pilgrims in the documentary don't believe in religion, but from Medieval times it was recognized that walking the Camino is an internal journey, not just a physical one. People from all backgrounds and religions—or no religion at all—are changed by putting one foot in front of the other for five hundred miles. At the end, during the credits, Tyler Stenson's song "Best Laid Plans" played. It was the first song of his I ever heard. I stopped the credits, and went to find the song online.
It is a fitting song for a documentary about a journey that is both internal and physical. The song was inspired by something Stenson's father said at the funeral of a nephew: "That which might have been, can yet still be." He was speaking, I imagine, about the resurrection: that hope so many religions share—that death is not the end, that all of us will live again. There is no greater journey than that.
Here is a link to Stenson's page at bandcamp.com, where you can listen to this song and read the lyrics:
Here is a link to Tyler Stenson's extensive website, which features many more songs:
And here is a link to the song on Amazon.com, if you want to download it:
I was moved by the documentary The Camino: Six Ways to Santiago. It is beautifully filmed: the Pyrenees and small towns along the Camino are luminous and lovely. The documentary tells the stories of many more people than six, though there are six main pilgrims that they follow. Some particularly interested me. There is one young French mother, who pushes a baby carriage with her toddler son on the Camino; her brother, whom she argues with a lot and who does not believe in God, goes with her on the journey to take care of her and his nephew, and to help them. At one point, an American woman (one of the six pilgrims the documentary follows) encounters this family at midday. The brother is baking potatoes in foil in a fire he has built, and roasting sausages. They also have bread and cheese from the village nearby. They invite the American to eat with them, and she does. She says to the brother: "This is a feast!" And he answers: "No. It's just knowing how to live."
All of the characters in this documentary are compelling. The documentary itself won awards at twelve film festivals, including Best Documentary 2013 at the American Documentary Film Festival. Here is a link to the website for the documentary; you can watch the trailer here:
I recommend this documentary. It is about real people doing remarkable things. The New York Times review of this documentary says that viewers should beware: if you watch it, you may want to walk the Camino.
Perhaps I will encounter you one day, walking an ancient path in the Pyrenees.
The photograph, above, is of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska (Credit: NPS; used courtesy of the National Park Service). This is the fifth of twenty photos of National Parks that I will feature in this blog to honor the centenary of the National Park Service.