Sun Salute…. you know those old 70’s cartoons and their depictions of the characters running? Think Roadrunner. With those elliptical lines and kicked-up dust, no legs showing? I think of that when this song starts out & takes off running. It’s running, running, running. Frenetic. Then it quickly comes to a halt, and we end up in the meadow, where things are pretty and slow and the complete opposite of spinning ellipses. Makes me think of this hard Sun Salutation yoga flow that kicks my ass… It’s pretty and flows nicely but it’s also deceivingly intense & before you know it your heart rate is up, you’re breathing hard, your muscles are shaking. An hour later you still feel that buzz just under your skin. I guess that works for this song too.
Sun Salute is the 6th song in the Night Blooming series of new unmixed songs by 50 Foot Wave. Listen/download/share at kristinhersh.com.
I think it’s a fair assumption that Kristin doesn’t like the shit between Piety and Desire Streets.
Between Piety & Desire is black comedy in song. It makes me laugh but I’m not always sure it should. The phrasing is just genius, though. And it’s hilarious. “incense, strawberry candles and so-ooap, way to butcher a street”. HA! The way she sings “soap” makes me laugh out loud. That’s funny shit, because she’s right. “you can smell them coming, a torture on the breeze” <– that right there, "a torture on the breeze" – a most genius-ly perfect way to convey a shit smell in the air.
"We're gonna die so what the fuck…" That shouldn't make me laugh, either.
The imagery Kristin puts forth in the first half of the song makes me feel like I'm *in* New Orleans when I’ve never actually been there. Then the shift after "sheer dumb luck", I feel it like a strong puff of air, oof, then it's like there's black smoke coming out from the strings as Kristin plays them, a dark, heavy smoke, that settles down around her feet, slowly reaching out, til suddenly the song ends and it's gone. I feel that smoke under the guitar, it's oppressive and heavy, but not completely so either. I feel a bit up in some of the notes played, with that heavy smoke underneath. The music is conveying some strong feelings as Kristin drills into your head that "we don't like the shit between Piety & Desire". It kinda makes me want to go there.
Holy crap, I’m LOVING the Badass Sparkly Baritone.
Detox. This song. It slays me. When I first heard it, I gasped at the first tempo change. Then the next. I LOVE it when they start off one way and drastically shift. It’s always best when I hear songs for the first time when I’m alone because I tend to react. My kids laughed at me once when they saw that.
I watch this video in awe, staring at Kristin’s hands and at what they’re doing. I couldn’t imagine being able to play guitar like that. I play like a preschooler in comparison. I’ll say it again, though, I LOVE that sparkly baritone.
I love the rhythmic vocals, Detox’s changes and shifts, its flow and it’s cyclical nature. I love the slight variations in lyric structure/words which is kinda one of those things Kristin’s pretty damn spectacular at. Even just the way she sings the word “chair”. So great, even that one word. This song has every single element of what I truly love about Kristin’s music. I won’t spell those things out here, but every single thing I love about Kristin’s music, song structure, and vocals can be found in these two and a half or so minutes. Just gorgeous. Another big, beautiful, sparkly song.
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.
The Diving Bell.
The Diving Bell makes me cry.
The Diving Bell was posted back in July 2011. It’s February 2012 now. It made me cry like a baby when I first heard it. Over and over I heard it, and over and over it made me cry. Real, dripping tears. I’m not embarrassed to admit that, I lost my shame a long time ago when it comes to this stuff.
The Diving Bell is stunningly beautiful. There really aren’t better words. The guitar is incredibly gorgeous, it’s ringing coupled with Kristin’s sweet vocals is what’s making this song, even in it’s demo form, one of my all-time favorites. Normally I’d NEVER make that distinction when a song is really still in it’s infantile form, not having been recorded in the studio, but this, oh, this. And hell, I rarely make that distinction even with songs that are finished. This is different.
I hear The Diving Bell as what it is. It’s sparkly guitar. Kristin’s beautiful voice. Not much else. I like it stark. The vocal and guitar are such a perfect pairing in this case, they don’t need much embellishment at all. They should stand alone. I think the addition of bass or drums in this song would take away that inherent beauty. Of course a bit of embellishment is great. I do think, though, that this song *feels* like it needs to stay pure to itself. Minimalist. Sometimes that’s the most striking way to be.
The Diving Bell is such a ‘floating on water’ type of song. Like you’re way off shore, rolling on gentle waves. It’s really quite lovely. I kinda love to go there. To fall into this song, it almost envelopes you like sand would, if you stood on the water’s edge as the tide came in, your feet sinking deeper and deeper. Feels pretty nice though, doesn’t it?
“into your void I follow….” is where The Diving Bell makes me cry. It’s heartbreaking. I could write more but it makes me cry.
The feeling I get from this song is of swimming underwater, with the bright sun shining through the surface, free of having to touch ground all the time. Floating, gliding, propelling yourself forward through this ocean of song. Don’t have to breathe down here, the music keeps you alive.
It’s like these songs grab my face and demand my attention when they’re new and we’re getting to know each other. I learned this Japanese word recently – boketto – meaning “the act of gazing vacantly into the distance without thinking”. This is what I did with Chipping Teeth. I need a similar word which means “gazing vacantly into the distance feeling the music.” Absorbing it, making it a part of me. ‘Cause that’s what I do.
Watch and listen to Kristin Hersh’s Chipping Teeth:
I wrote the following to Kristin after hearing Bright for the first time. My first impressions are always my favorite, so I’ll share it with you too.
My first impression of Bright was as this garden of happy calm, not of flowers, but a garden of leafy green. To lay in the soft, plush grass of sound under a bright blue sky and shining sun. Basking. Barefoot. Enveloped by guitar tones. Maybe I wanted to be somewhere pretty today, away from the drab, cold grayness of this Monday. Damn, this is a pretty video.
But then I let go of that, turned off my brain and just let it be. I focused on the day job for a while and let the song play in the background. It was on in the periphery and I realized in the end that it just feels bright blue and kelly green.
Just kinda leaving myself open and cool things are happening. Listen to Bright, or rather, watch Kristin Hersh play Bright.