I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
February 18, 2015 - 12:16 p.m.
I really need to find a way to translate my thoughts directly to the internet without having to type. Don't suggest voice translation, that would be even worse. I'd have to talk. I don' t talk in the mornings. I mean I can and if I'm with friends I do but in general I like some quiet time to start the day.
I had therapy yesterday. It was atypical. I was able to start off talking about my biggest issue. Usually I ease my way into it. But that was because I was feeling numb. I'm still a bit numb. Pink Floyd was wrong, it isn't comfortable. But I still have my sense of humor. I touched my shoulder and it hurt like hell and thought, "OK numb isn't so bad." There is no constant ache like here was for a while but when I move he shoulder th wrong way or press on it the acute pain is worse. I had a dream about it last night. The slight swelling I think I feel was actually a large parasite in my shoulder that transmitted it's pain to me. I would move around to keep comfortable and that's why y pain will move. The weirdest part was that this was not a scary nightmare. My reaction was "Good I know what's wrong and can be careful to not hurt it so it won't hurt me." Dreams are weird. I'll come back to dreams later
After therapy I did my usual, went to my PO Box and then to Heather's. Heather is looking for a new roommate and was showing the apartment when I got there. It was a couple, they seemed like fun people. How do I judge that? They got my jokes.
Should I go back to breakfast? I made my grits ala Horvendile with a new twist, with sausages instead of Taylor Ham. I mix eggs, cheese, and sausages right into the grits. So why did I just start buying the large packages of brown and serve sausages? I had always bought the small boxes but that's more expensive and I have to keep buying. Not only that but the package isn't resealable. Buying the boxes makes no sense for someone thga eats sausages as often as I do.
Let's start off with the fact that Kristin gets a macro to insert a link to her website. That means I write about her often enough to merit that. That's an objective compliment. It shows that she's good enough to merit repeated listening to.
I listened to the album carefully last night. I wanted to read the lyrics while I listened I looked for the physical album and couldn't find it. know why? I don't have the physical album, Duh. But Kristin sent me the pdf and I'm reading them now. There's a pretty impressive list of musicians that perform on the album; Stephanie Coleman on fiddle, Rushad Eggleston the former cello player from Crooked Still, Chris Eldridge from the Punch Brother on guitar, Jefferson Hamer who did the Child Ballads album with Anaïs Mitchell on harmony vocals, Paul Kowert of the Punch Brothers on bass, Ruth Merenda and Aoife O'Donovan, Kristin' bandmates in Sometymes Why, on harmony vocals, and Alec Spiegelman from Cuddle Magic on bass clarinet, clarinet, and flute. There are others but those are the ones I know. That's an impressive list.
Now let's see if I can make some sense of my notes I took as I listened last night along with looking at the lyrics now and of course hearing these songs many times before. Wish me luck.
Gondolier is an album, a consistent vision. There is a unity to the songs. They are ten movements of a larger opus. This is what' different hearing it this way not a few songs at a time in concert. It doesn't include the one new song I always want to hear live, the one that I call the greatest song ever written, the totally ridiculous 13 Wolverines. I generally disagree when artists leave off a funny or weird song because it doesn't fit in with the rest of the songs. But in this case Kristin's right. It would break the feel of the album an that's a feeling I don't want broken.
There are several themes running through the album. The one I noticed I concert was aquatic. So many of the songs mention water, bodies of water, fish, or boats. It's no accident that the album title is Gondolier. Kristin is taking us on a trip through the canals of her mind.
Another related them is pastoral. Kristin lives in the heart of civilization, Brooklyn, but the subject matter is bucolic. Of course Kristin can throw you a curve. 'Simmon has references to the crawdad hole, the green grassy ground, and catching catfish. Then it throws in this,
You ride the gray mare, and I'll ride the roanWhere does that come from? It's the kind of jarring juxtaposition that Dylan would use in his early electric phase, think Bringing it All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited It stops you from being complacent. It doesn't let the song become background music.
Gondolier sounds like a dream enfolding. It goes right down to each measure. It's as if Kristin was letting the songs out by turning a crank in a deliberate but varied pace. She starts off each rotation slow but speeds up at the end. It's not the pace of real life but of dreams. It's made explicit on the sort of title track, The Boat Song (Gondolier).
For some reason my dreams are always about water.The song should be the title track, it is the album in miniature.
Kristin comes from a trad world. She's part or the Jalopy scene. Except for Alec's bass clarinet the instrumentation is traditional. But somehow the sound can evoke classic rock. Kristin doesn't sound like anyone else but I hear echoes of Dark Side of the Moon. This is where words are failing me. How can the sound be both dense and spare but it is. It's like the train in the country meadow.
One of these days I'll learn to review an album. Hey I thought this was worth the effort of reviewing even though it's difficult for me. That says something.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
Follow on Feedly