Posts Tagged ‘2000s’

Caroline Crawley, Beamheart

“Crawley recalls how during recording of the plaintive ‘I May Never,’ she burst into tears during one take, while during the second one the studio engineer did exactly the same.” A quote from an affectionate article in The Guardian on Shelleyan Orphan, the undertones (overtones? both?) of my musical back and forths between the city and suburbs, each of their four albums accompanying me for their assigned seasonal three-month span each year. My sister and I both played reed instruments, and the oboe and bassoon add the right touches to Shelleyan Orphan songs, especially here.

The song perfectly encapsulates the heaven-sent and now to-heaven-returned voice of Caroline Crawley.

I may never see your face again
Rabbit’s down a hole, he’s already gone
Life came between us and just for a day
You’re the one who was standing in the door
I will love you, no matter even what you say or do
I will call your name out loud
I will love you, no matter even what you say or do
I will call your name.

So, this morning is the last I might see him. Yesterday I knelt by his big bed as he half-dozed, luxuriating in a head and ear rub while I cradled his tiny, scraggled head in my palm. This morning he was cleaning his paws sputtering a little as he did so, cheeks puffing out, then walking a little, went out and made the perfect poop, even ate half a carrot stick. Every snort and snore from him reminds me of all his little ways, many so lost now.

“I May Never” followed by “Beamheart,” the perfect finish to a career, perfect tones for a finish to a life that I can keep in my head while I think over the seventeen years of wonderful memories.


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There was a time when reading about music was enough to set it in your mind and eventually lead to a purchase, songs unheard.

The Jamwho emulated much and in turn produced much to emulatewas probably my first example of this. I still remember the thrilling ride all the way up the tedious highway to Woodfield Mall to visit a music shop that had such alternative/British stuff. I bought the cassette of their second album, This Is The Modern World, and listened to it on the drive home.

It was the first scrap of music I’d ever heard by The Jam, but reading about them I had to check it out; I had decided they were for me. Thought of as a rushed, mediocre second album, it remains a favorite for this association, not to mention the music being damn good too. Critics. Interesting knowing what the first song you heard by a band was: “The Modern World” in this case.

In the mid 2000s, I read snippet (p)reviews of albums or concerts by CSS and Blonde Redhead. The former was a cheeky comet in the night that holds up pretty well (the album’s still in my “best albums” storage case). Blonde Redhead, the beginning of an intoxicating latter-half-of-my-life relationship. (More on them another day, for sure.)


Cansei de Ser Sexy, with clipped art that intro’d me to the group.

It’s hard to capture how many singles and albums were dreamed of and bought thanks to the Encyclopedia of British Beat Groups & Solo Artists of the Sixties by Omnibus Press. I learned of The Flowerpot Men, a zippy Salvation Army Band, and true obscurities like Beau Brummell (“I Know Know Know”) and Bruno (who produced “a brace of singles”). There was Forest with their “gentle, swirling music”an only partially applicable description of their brace of albums.

There were cool low-tech images: a gorgeous pelvic-thrust of a picture of Elkie Brooks (still never listened to her music) and a dot matrix masterpiece of a laughing Freddie Garrity.


Record catalogs had an effect too, with names of songs sticking in my head and often ending up purchased and revolving on my record playerthe only way to hear the lyrics to these tantalizing scraps of music history. There was really no other way to hear an obscure song unless you wanted to pester a local DJ who just might have a dusty record lying around somewhere. And what if the song was embarrasingly bad?

And then there’s songs you’d hear on the radio. Usually one song was all it took, and maybe a little sampling in the record shop. It was acquiredpurchased, or a copy obtained from a friend. Ahhhh, good old days.

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There is quite a trade in misheard lyrics and I don’t plan on making a habit of being part of it, although my old notebooks are full of lyric re-writes often based on initial hearings of Smiths’ and other songs. The Clash, when confronted about Joe Stummer’s enunciation, said that part of the fun was listening and the lyrics eventually clicking, and I agree. And sometimes it’s fun to run with the lyrical notions we’ve created when listening to songs.

Legendary Scottish band, the Trashcan Sinatras, have a song on what I’d call their best album, Weightlifting. It’s called “Leave Me Alone.” When I hear it, I think of the relationships that have ended that I still wish hadn’t ended. Those get fewer and far between as time passes, but there are still one or two or three I think about.

Here are the lyrics, as found online:

The hardest thing of all is to belong
The oddest thing of all this time
Is I’m not sad at all, I can see beyond
The hardest thing of all – goodbye

Leave me alone, you’re all I wanted
Don’t haunt me now, don’t want to know
Leave me alone, I’ve found what I’m made of
Don’t want you back, don’t need you back

Got no place to go, feeling’s going slow
The lowest of the low tonight
Well how am I supposed to know
If you won’t talk to me
Don’t talk to me

Yeah, the hardest thing of all
The oddest thing of all
Is I’m not sad alone

It’s beautiful how the singer accepts the situation and is resolute in their goodbye and doesn’t want the loved one to return or bother them with little friendly gestures anymore, even though there is a tinge of regret in the “you won’t talk to me.”

Legendary Scottish Band bumper sticker. (from rainmatesforever.com)

I had heard the first verse as this:

The hardest thing of all is to belong
The oddest thing of all is time
I’m not sad at all, I can see beyond
The hardest thing of all – goodbye

Similarly, the last verse as this:

Yeah, the hardest thing of all
The oddest thing of all
I’m not sad at all

So, rather than “this time,” I heard “is time,” giving a more philosophical tone to it all. “Time” is the odd thing instead of “I’m not sad at all” being the odd thing.

Sometimes I also heard “oldest thing of all is time”, adding more to that tone. Either way, my way of hearing gives the lyric a paraphrase something like, “It’s hard to belong, and time is odd (or old). But I’m not sad, and can now see beyond your goodbye into the timelessness of the universe. Nothing begins or ends, the past is not cordoned off from the present, and such notions. Despite the goodbye, I can live with it thanks to this perspective.”

The original lyric may carry a similar philosophical look, perhaps, with the singer not sad, seemingly for similar reasons as I just described. Or it may just be a more unthinking feeling of not being sad by the loss without any reasoning attached; they have moved on for whatever reason.

Maybe, probably, my mishearing doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, but as someone who used to trade in such writing, it sure is interesting (to me).

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One of the cooler conservation organizations out there, the Center for Biological Diversity, sent me a postcard with a beautiful red fox looking at me with the poem “Keeping Quiet” beside. It’s by Pablo Neruda and I hope you’ll read it and mull it over, maybe even recognize it as your natural state, one that seems to have been forced upon many people these days who are so used to unceasing hustling. Without going on about it, I had never read this poem before, and it perfectly reflects the way to combat this gospel of profit margin, of anthropocentric growth, of getting ahead that so pervades human endeavor.

Speaking of celebrating the profitless, have you voted in the Signac puzzle piece poll yet?

I’ve been spending some more time with Divine Discontent by Sixpence None The Richer, listening more closely and associations that were vague now register.

There is the Crowded House cover, track 4, and one that brings to mind Alanis Morissette (5), early late Beatles (10), Bacharach or Alpert (11), and not sure, but someone (12), all delivered with Leigh Nash’s rich vocals and Matt Slocum’s rich orchestration and deft (along with Sean Kelly) guitar playing.

As usual, the best songs are the ones penned by Slocum alone. There’s even a developing “hat trick,” as I call a wonderful succession of three songs that lead off the somber festivities: “Breathe Your Name,” “Tonight,” and “Down and Out of Time.” This last is my favorite song at this point, and one Nash also contributed to.

Slocum’s songwriting remains at the high level of their big hit album, and his vulnerability and confessional knowledge of his own weaknesses remains as well. “I’ve Been Waiting” hooks you in and takes the breath away. “Down and Out of Time” captures some of the song that began their previous album“We Have Forgotten” has this lashing out: “don’t go, I’ll shoot you down.” “Down and Out of Time” says, “I aim my cannon at you ready or not / You’re gonna feel my pain like it or not.”

There’s no nicer song to sing along with. And it’s perfect for this time when so much is grounded and, despite all the pain for so many, there is much to be found in exactly thatbeing grounded. “Perhaps this earth can teach us / as when everything seems dead / and later proves to be alive.”

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One to grow on

I remember little public service announcements for kids with the above title back in the Afterschool Special and Snipets days. This post is about Divine Discontent, an album by Sixpence None The Richer that recently grew on me, melding into my mind in a big way.

I’d been going through albums while working the Signac puzzle, often picking lesser ones in my collection I’d not listened to in a while. These kinds of filler albums are pleasant enough, and sometimes they hurdle themselves into the other category, that of featured listen where I start singing along to every song. Such is Divine Discontent. It’s one of those albums where the song titles aren’t even clear or material, where each song seems like the beginning and finale of the album, beautiful dramas unto themselves. The exception is the respectful cover of Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” which luckily fits in pretty well. I found myself catching interesting, touching elements in each and every song as I worked on my puzzle.


Sixpence’s eponymous album, from which their hit “Kiss Me” was harvested, is an all-time fave, one I pull out and enjoy every fall. It’s an album with high peaks and a couple of lulls; but it sets a mood immediately and carries it forward throughouta rare thing. And now something rarer, another album by the same group that almost matches it, the same combination of writing by Matt Slocum and singing by Leigh Nash. Gorgeous avian cover art too.

I have albums by Shelleyan Orphan on a regular seasonal rotation, playing the same one each spring, summer, &c. I wonder if I might end up doing the same for Sixpence None The Richer now that I have fall and spring covered. Have they become a major group for me? We’ll see. It may take a good while, but I’ll be checking out Lost in Transition, The Fatherless & The Widow, Tickets for a Prayer Wheel, and This Beautiful Mess to find out.

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