Like A Dog

Last May I had a moment with Like a Dog, “Now Resonating” in retrospect. I dug out this old email I sent to Kristin back then.

May, 2011: I’ve been having a mini-obsession with Like A Dog’s aching beauty over the past week. Kinda bowls me over with it’s depth, especially when coupled with the simplicity of the stripped-down 10-4 All version. It’s making me a bit pensive.

I’m thinking about it in terms of motherhood. How all you want to do is give and give and give all of yourself to this wonderful little creature you made, and it never feels like it’ll ever be enough, because your love is just that great. And how scary it can be. You bring these babies up and make them the best people you can, and they have to walk away from your house one day when they’re ready to be set free and you hope that they’re prepared for this big, bad world. You’ve given them all these tools and you hope it’s been enough. It hurts a little when they leave and spread their wings (I imagine) but they have to do it. Same way the cygnets one day have to fly away after mom and dad swan have taught them to fly and catch fish and stand their ground vs. the Canadian geese. And still, you can’t give them enough.

Whatever it really means doesn’t matter to me, this is just what it’s given me the past few days as I’ve gone off on my little thinking tangent. I’m not really done processing it.

March, 2012: It’s a year later and I have a 14-year-old and this stuff is still scary. Scarier, I think. I don’t expect that to get any less scary, either. Ever.


Now Resonating: Fippy

Been thinking about doing periodic posts about songs that are currently resonating with me, if only to keep track of it because *I* think it can be interesting. Sometimes what’s resonating will jump all over the place, a new song every day, or it’ll be something that sticks for a while. Some are like recurring dreams, that I’ll obsess on every few months (like Status Quo). Maybe there’s a pattern.

Yesterday’s song of resonance was Nobody’s Tar, Nobody’s Feathers. I’m fairly convinced that the last 30 seconds of this song make it my favorite of the Men’s Room songs (subject to change, of course!). I LOVE those “AHHH-AHHH-OHHH”‘s at the end. LOVE THEM. So much. Other than that though, musically, this song just *feels* right. I say that all the time. I should get more creative.

Really, though, I hear those “AHHH-AHHH-OHHH”‘s and think it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever heard. It almost always makes me immediately repeat the song. It’s really hard for me to get through Men’s Room without repeating this song at least once.

This single song obsession of yesterday was tight on the heels of general Fippy resonance from the day before. It started off with Power+Light, which sparked off a Men’s Room thing. I drove to work with those guys, thinking about their math, how Kristin, Bernard and Rob’s parts all work together, the starts, the stops, the time changes. I love Fippy math. It fascinates me.


I woke up today with Curtains in my head. Curtains 1, to be specific. I heard a piece of Curtains 2 once in the studio. The slight lyrical difference between the two left me wanting more. I can’t *wait* to hear this finished Throwing Muses record and feel the rest. It’s one of those songs (two of?) with subtle intensity. One in which you’ll find so much more after it lets you pierce through its surface a bit.

“First rule: Don’t Speak” gets me every time. Kinda smacks you in the face with that, huh?

The Curtains/Triangle Quantico pairing hit me pretty hard when I first heard it. I likened the pause between the two fragments as being much like the pause at the highest point of a roller coaster, just before you plunge down. The anticipation of that rush about to come, when you leave your stomach up top. I love that feeling, that breathtaking moment before the plunge.

With Triangle Quantico, that drop throws you right into its rolling guitar-emotions: upanddown, upanddown, upanddown. I love so much how that guitar conveys the feeling of the song, the up and down of feeling helpless and helping someone who needs it, giving them all you can yet not knowing what they need. I don’t often think too hard about lyrics, preferring to *feel* the song and the emotions within it, but sometimes they speak and I’ve got to listen. This one comes with an important lesson that’s impossible to ignore.

A song like this has the potential to crush me, I think, if not for the absolute beauty of the contrasting guitar sounds. The guitar almost envelopes me protectively, because I tend to feel too hard. Music is so wonderful like that, and I think Kristin has a particular talent for making the hardest things sound the most gorgeous. Like yeah, I feel so helpless, but let’s ride this roller coaster together and YAY! I left my stomach up there, and look at the pretty colors as we roll by…

It’s all about being there for people you love most, even if you don’t know how. Is there nothing more important than that?

On Quick and a Hindu Goddess

Quick doesn’t make me sad. It never did, despite it being a *really* sad song. It’s SO intense and maybe that’s why. I feel like it wants me to absorb it, acknowledge it and feel it. This song shows just how bad things can be and how helpless it can feel hitting rock bottom and it damn near throws me into the corner in a sobbing heap, BUT! It leaves me feeling cleansed in the end.

When that heavy guitar kicks in and the chorus starts, and Kristin’s just *belting* that out, it feels like such a purging. When it’s over, I feel beaten and spent, yet strengthened, because all the bad shit has been expelled. It epitomizes that turning point, where shit is just SO bad you have to confront it, stare it down and push it the fuck away and win the fight.

These hopeless, horrible moments (as extended as they sometimes can be), they always seem to pass, even when you think they never will. There’s such strength in just knowing that, I think.

I wrote those above words to Kristin back in May of 2011. It’s how I’ve always perceived Quick. I look to it often for strength.

Fast forward to June 2011 and I came across this most incredible article that someone had posted a link to on Facebook, I think. It’s about this Hindu goddess named Akhilandeshvari who gains power from being that broken, sobbing heap on the floor. Read the article here, it’s pretty incredible. I read that article and my jaw dropped to the floor. It was EVERYTHING I felt about Quick, but didn’t say quite so elegantly. I drew many parallels in the Hindu symbolism to what Quick had always been showing me. That when you’re at your lowest you can pull together strength you didn’t know you had to put yourself back together and rise up stronger than before.

It’s a really important concept to keep in mind, I think, especially when the mind is rational. We all feel like shit at one time or another, and Quick is one of those songs that can remind us that it’s OK and we CAN get through. There’s so much strength to be found there. “In our brokenness, we are unlimited. And that means we are amazing.”

And so are these songs. These beautiful, smart songs.

Pull up a chair

… and sit here for a while with me in The Grotto. It’s midnight here, dark as pitch. You see only stars in the blue-black night sky. The moon is back over there, on the other side of the house. The night is clear. I sit here, on the porch swing of this old house. The porch wraps around, but I’m in front. The house is a blue-gray, it’s porch old and weathered, so it’s a little brown, too. Some of the songs here are cold, but it’s not here where I am. It’s a comfortable night, just me, the stars, the sounds of the night bugs and these songs. And now you.

Midnight in The Grotto is a wonderful place to be. Rocking on this porch swing, feeling the starkness of the night and the naked, exposed songs. To keep in touch with your silence. It’s content here, perfect. A lovely place to just be and feel the music. Only sweetness, that’s all. To shake off the bitter.

We need that sometimes. I truly appreciate the grounding, centering nature of this record. Afterward, I can drive off, bringing that contentment along from The Grotto, after Kristin’s shown me that she really does have the coolest view.

Killing Two Birds

Killing Two Birds, the first of Kristin Hersh’s Sparkly Baritone Songs.

Killing Two Birds wants to be big. (I think) I hear this as a band song. Feels like that baritone wants to be an anchor for all kinds of embellishment. Sound layers that flow in and out with the tempo changes. No surprise that this comes with a whole different feel from the first three demos in this series, I’m really interested in how all these will pan out over time.

“Street puke’s not your fault” is a pretty great opening line. A New Orleans song, for sure. I’m a huge sucker for arpeggios, and this song’s got a nice bit of that going on. I love how it flows, the quiet pretty parts, Kristin’s voice being exquisitely beautiful, how the song builds yet stays pretty. Again, showing Kristin’s talent for making not nice things sound pretty. There’s a certain beauty to be found in even bad things, I guess, and Kristin keeps teaching me that.