good morning ~
(click the link / black raspberry bush to listen)
today's track is a slinky groover that has some distinct VH1-in-the-early-2000s energy
incredible gig coming up this Saturday if the weather decides to cooperate - Friends Meeting (my duo with M. Geddes Gengras) plays outdoors at Opus 40 in a horizontal listening format with three other rilly good zoners - - ticket link here (and will be moved to August 5th if the thunder claps). here's the flyer:
also - - tonight is the second installment of Jupiter Nights at Basilica Hudson, come say hi to me at my new job and enjoy the second longest night of the year.
I apologize for missing a few recent Thursdays - I never quite realized how big this weekly work is until I had a million other things I had to do. Hoping to stay more on it - thanks for sticking with me.
How exactly is one supposed to know what to do?
In any given situation, how does the determination run?
When the two baby birds, pushed from their nests, found their final resting place on the brick path outside our front door, what was I to do?
The answer, it turns out, was to finally bend over and delicately scoop their hollow bones.
Something strange happened last week.
We had gone to see Yo La Tengo play at a brewery in Massachusetts (bizarre, they make beer in what appears to be a corporate campus from the 1990s...gateway computer shopping mall vibes...we had to park our car at the yankee candle outlet and ride as the only two passengers on an entire yellow school bus in order to get to the music...). It was a lovely show and I danced in the rain to skronky guitar solos as if I had been following the Dead for years, elastic and ecstatic and pretty gone off of half a weed seltzer.
Then a long drive home - spirits were high but our bodies were fatigued, we looked forward to falling asleep immediately upon entry.
But through the front door we then noticed, just beyond the threshold - sheets of water cascading through the drop ceiling, the sickening sound of heavy running water within the walls of the home we only just moved into.
Of course we dropped our shit to the floor and flew upstairs looking for the source of the water. And of course we saw the washing machine inexplicably spewing water and brimming, our laundry cup runneth over. And though I don't think I consciously knew the fact of its location before this inciting incident we of course reached for the water shutoff valve just behind the machine, some kind of survival instinct.
Then there were the hours of inching along the shop vac, its thirsty maw. The long week of seeing just how wet the walls got, ripping down the worst of it wherever possible, sweating in our full coverage tyvek suits. And it was this surreal state of both knowing what to do and having no fucking clue what to do, knowing how it would go down from here and fearing the worst possible scenario, simultaneously helpless and proactive, effective and shrugging.
There's an old song my old band used to play.
Written, oh, let's say something like fifteen years ago.
The great thing about this song was that my otherwise very loud band would play this one as quietly as possible, crescendoing subtly to one perfect descending close harmony line.
When we played this song, it sounded like a murmuration of birds taking flight, quiet rustling at first, then exploding into motion.
At the time I was very interested in writing things on piano and then rearranging them for guitar.
So this song began underground, in the below-sea-level, bunker-like concrete rooms where my college kept the slightly out-of-tune baby grand pianos.
Somebody had been telling me about this passage in the Bible, a selection from Matthew that beautifully enumerates just how deeply the Creator cares and accounts for the totally infinitesimal.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Or as Carl Sagan put it: Some people think God is an outsized, light-skinned male with a long white beard, sitting on a throne somewhere up there in the sky, busily tallying the fall of every sparrow.
That phrase got stuck in my mouth - I rolled it around with my tongue, cough-drop like.
This is how it usually went when I used to write songs, a phrase of activation.
And then at the time I was also obsessed with singing about houses.
When I was in college it felt like different houses were passing through my family's fingers like a fistful of sand.
I never knew what bedroom I'd be welcome to sleep in anytime I visited home or one of the other cities where one set of my parents were living.
It was disorienting - everything felt provisional, every roof over my head temporary, the road trip I took to get to college never ended.
The dastardly financial maneuvers of 2008 gave everything having to do with money a hallucinatory, nightmarish air.
So I kept writing songs that mentioned mortgages and cul de sacs.
Never ever imagining that a mortgage would one day be something I would ever have to worry about, nevertheless sign up for.
And here I am, slightly horrified to discover that this old, old song seems to aptly describe the last week of our lives.
Stole the window sill Don't understand it Sun bleached teeth Tallying the fall of every sparrow Wells for wired wreaths
Barbed and broken Ash and glass and string Bind the water With the house's wings
Oh, it's all I know Don't understand it Wind swept breast Tallying the fall of every sparrow Sleep for stolen rest
Wells of water Framed in birch and briar Sparrows wanting Fell from hobbled wire
I think often lately of the dog chasing the car, biting at the bumper.
Spent a lot of my life lonely, a real dyed-in-the-wool yearner, staring poignantly out the window in all of my earliest memories.
Always wanting something different from what was right at hand, half-convinced that I was happy to wander.
A closer bond, more people at the party, an unslakable thirst.
I do not feel so lonely lately.
A place to live and live well, a foothold in the world, friends.
Someone to sleep beside who, during what felt like the act of an old testament god, knew how to banish the water.
We stood before the flood and ruined the muscles of our forearms fighting for the soul of our house.
When he finally snarls on the damn the thing, chomps his yellow teeth down on the chrome - what will he do with it?
How will we know what to do?
What comes after the getting of it?
But what about you? Are the walls of your home sound? Are they holding you in? What songs are you writing today that will describe your life in fifteen years? What will you do with it when you get it?