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An Invitation to Just 'Be'

First, please, slip into these headphones. This will be an intimate experience, one best served not with a room of speakers or tiny earbuds. Immersion is what's needed here.

About 2 minutes and 13 seconds is all it'll take. But this melding of simple guitar and melody and the elegance of a repeated refrain will resonate with you for days.

I'm a big fan of soundtracks, both instrumental and, when done well, the juxtaposition of perfect songs with perfect cinematic moments.

This tune, "Be Not So Fearful," written and delivered in its most stripped down form by Bill Fay back in 1971, has been covered nearly a dozen times. You can find rousing, fuller instrumentation on iTunes. There's an upbeat version. Wilco did a fresh take in their documentary.

I'll save the visuals and the identification of where the version I love is played for last, but sit back and embrace it on its own terms first, here, with me.

You hear the elegant strum of an acoustic guitar, closely miked, right off the bat. The chords are soothing, and like I've heard it described elsewhere, almost akin to a lullaby.

The lyrics come in just five seconds later — "Be not so nervous, be not so frail." — and you do, even as an adult, feel that inviting comfort. You're in good hands here.

The guitar is a strum, like you could pick up this melody at a campfire with friends on some summer evening. A second line, "Someone watches you, you will not fail" underscores that sense that you're in good hands, both musically and psychologically.

There's a little bit of strings underneath now, almost folksy, but still in the realm of pop. It's warm. You're not waiting for a country twang.

And then there's the simple refrain, repeated twice, the second time with a slight note of confident nudging: "Be not so nervous, be not so frail. Be not so nervous, be not so frail."

The second verse brings in a doubling of the main vocal, whether its Newman himself, or one of his collaborators in the New Pornographers group, I can't exactly tell. But there's strength there, with purpose.

A minute and a half in, and the lyrics offer more invitation to trust, to feel at ease, to shed your hurts, your frustrations and to be in the moment. They're repeated, with only slight build, as the song comes round twice more to that mantra, "Be not so nervous, be not s0 frail."

There's no big finish. The song and its melody wrap cleanly but without flourish, and the instrumentation comes back to just that simple guitar strum. You've taken a journey in 2.15 minutes.

* * * * *

This song will likely come back to you in different moments of the day. When you're relaxing and open. When you're busy or stressed and needing ease. And its lyrics and chords may invite you to apply them to your own relationships or needs. I know they have for me, for different reasons.

I bought the soundtrack album a year or so after I first heard the song in the show it appeared in. I've since listened to the half-dozen or so iterations done by others that I think illuminate or find fresh perspective. Bill Fay's original rings true. But Newman's version offers something especially forward-looking, and it perfectly underscores the screen moment it appeared with: the closing moments of an episode of "The Walking Dead," in which the search for sanctuary, for a safe place amid the horrors of the world, is needed and seemingly found.

On purpose, or not.

Celtic