The Beginning

How did this start?

I remember that afternoon, shopping at the record store in the town I grew up in. A regular chain-type store, I couldn’t afford to be picky in that town where I lived. I was 17. It was autumn. It was 30 years ago now.

I remember where I found it, this sampler called Just Say Yes. I remember exactly where it was in the store for some reason, too. I bought it because it had a bunch of bands on it that I was listening to at the time. Depeche Mode. Echo and the Bunnymen. The Smiths. The Ramones. And a bunch of others.

I went home and put this in my stereo system and knelt on the floor, looking over the liner notes that came in that CD. I remember being *stunned* when A Feeling came on. It was like nothing I had ever heard before. Stopped me in my tracks and changed my life forever. In so many ways.

A Feeling.

I loved this song like I’d never loved anything before. This moment was a turning point, I realize this now. I was meant to find this band. I was meant to find these people. I was meant to become this.

I immediately went in search of more music by this band. I found Chains Changed first. Then House Tornado. This was 1987. I drove all over, to ever indie record store I knew of, pouring through the racks, asking the people who worked there what they had that I might be missing, looking through the music magazines for anything I could find.

This would have been so much easier if we had the internet back then. But I low-fi found that for which I was searching.


Purgatory/Paradise Live Tweets

A long time ago I live tweeted Purgatory/Paradise. I’ve just found these on my computer so I’ve taken the liberty to copy them here in order of appearance. For posterity, you know?

waiting for an angle of the light…. …. some sound … …. a certain level of humidity.

ohmygod, is Smoky Hands not the most beautiful song?

It’s so sweet and pretty and nice, then Morning Birds flies in like a brick to the face. It’s startling almost. I like that, though.

Sleepwalking 2. A Throwing Muses song if I’ve ever heard one. I ❤ all the Sleepwalkings more than I love most things.

and Sunray! Sunray. i don't remember to pray, either.

"hell, i remember you" – i like to think about that from two angles. it works both ways.

i see Film as a sepia-toned dusty old Western. i'd love to make that video but i don't think @throwingbernard is cool with my horses idea

i love how Cherry Candy 1 is like the sugar high & Cherry Candy 2 is the mellowness that follows. contrasts can't exist without each other.

Freesia. that red and orange doorway is stunning, isn't it? bright, gorgeous song imagery. this song has a distinct smell, too. a nice one.

Curtains 1. Like you're ascending a big roller coaster. pulling. up. slowly. looking toward the peak. then you're stopped at the top…

… your breath stops, then you plunge down into Triangle Quantico, and the coaster rolls over smaller bumps and hills, twists and turns.

Morning Birds 2 is like the lazy river (we're still in the amusement park, friends). Calms us when we can't stop moving, you know?

oh god, Lazy Eye. the tempo changes. that chorus. those drums.

I love that Blurry 1 shares chords with Smoky Hands. Those two are a good pair.

if someone would like to make me a Folding Fire 2 ringtone I'd love that so much.

Slippershell always shocks me, 'oh! CASH track.' no, Muses song, silly. bells are nice, though, right? rockin.

Bluff. It's so simple and beautiful. You don't need complexity for loveliness. Pure. white. and a little foggy.

Blurry 2 strolls along a weedy and flowery rocky backdrop. Then you fall off a little cliff at the end.

Don't you feel like you're sitting against that guard rail in Terra Nova? There's a lot to learn from this song if you just feel it.

oh god, Walking Talking. It's mossy and gray and just oh, oh, there aren't words. under a tree canopy.

MILAN needs all caps. MILAN is big. It stands up and takes charge of the room. Electrifying, it makes the hairs on your arms stand up.

MILAN ends a little sad, cuz you've lost your way, but it's not, because you'll find it again, don't you worry.

Curtains 2 is about fear. We all have it.

Folding Fire 1, can we go outside? love that this is paired with Lazy Eye, this album is so smart. and the bass? perfection.

ok, so Static. the looping parts and all the layers are like this fantastical land where you can discover new things each time you fall in.

"only sweetness that's all, to shake off the bitter" is a lyric which comes to mind to define the gorgeousness of Clark's Nutcracker.

Dripping Trees holds its own without it's demo buddy, Cherry Candy. I imagine this one in a grassy field.

Sleepwalking 2. These are my Muses, what else can I say? it is BAD.ASS. And maybe you shouldn't, you know, drive a forklift today.

… and maybe call your grandma or something.

Smoky Hands 2 and its instrumental loveliness. A perfect seque into Speedbath, another friend visiting from the CASH series.

Speedbath is another beachy song, feel the sand under your feet?

Quick is about gaining strength from an extreme, crushing low. Just like this story of the goddess Akhilandeshvari:

Dripping Trees 2 is reedy. And so very true.

Glass Cats. It’s a dark, maroon velvet-lined room. It sees your soul and your future, but it won’t tell you what it is.

And that, my friends, concludes today’s impromptu live-tweeting of @throwingmuses Purgatory/Paradise.

I guess this is a poem

On Kristin’s Songs

They’re flowing water
     (Bubble Net)
They’re gray rocks of different shapes and sizes
     (Rubber Bullets)
They’re green trees sparkling with post rain diamonds
     (Status Quo)
They’re crashing ocean waves
     (God’s Not A Dick)
They’re rolling deep ocean swells
     (Diving Bell)
They’re gorgeous field flowers of yellow and blue

They’re tall grass.
     (Snake Oil)
They’re beautiful skies of blue studded with Simpsons clouds
They’re rain, too
They’re hurricanes of thunder and wind
     (St. Christopher)
They’re the sand beneath your feet
     (37 Hours)
They’re waiting
     (Me and My Charms)
They’re tears

They’re laughter
     (El Dorado)
They’re an empty, sparse room
     (Tuesday Night)
They’re red and orange
They’re forest paths
     (Vitamins V)
They’re seashells
They’re slate
     (Deep Wilson)
They’re a maroon velvety room
     (Glass Cats)
They’re warmth

They’re pure sweetness
They’re airy, free
They’re cliffside flowers
     (Red Eyes)
They’re a white-glowing blue
     (White Bikini Sand)
They’re despair
     (The Letter)
They’re dreamy and flowing
They’re brutally cold
They’re smoky and bare

They’re nature. They’re beauty. They’re truth.
They keep me dancing.

Throwing Muses and Me

Anyone who knows me knows I love Throwing Muses. I have loved this band longer than anything in this world, except maybe my family, of course. Obviously I’ve known them longer. I have loved this band like I have never loved any other band. 26 years. I doubt I can ever love another band like I love Throwing Muses. The impending release of their first record in 10 years has me reminiscing about my journey with this band through the course of my entire adult life.

This new book/album, Purgatory/Paradise, is coming in a matter of weeks and I’m stupid excited about it. This record is epic and smart. At 32 songs long, it’s a lot to take in. A lot of the songs are linked together, which makes it super interesting to listen to. You’ll find bits of songs in others, a bridge in one song might pop up as a chorus in another, a lyric will seem familiar and you’ll go back to find which other song has it, too. It’s so fun to find these links and associations. I’m such a dork I started making a diagram of these interrelationships. I’m quite sure I haven’t found them all. Hopefully people will help me complete it. I’ll post it when the album comes out.

I’ve probably written this story a few times over the years, but I discovered this band one day in autumn of 1987. I still remember sitting on that lavender carpet in my bedroom, listening to the Just Say Yes CD sampler I had just picked up from the local music store. I had bought it because it was full of a lot of bands I was listening to back then. I remember being absolutely stunned when A Feeling came on. I had been flipping through the booklet and it stopped me dead in my tracks, that song. If only I knew then what a defining moment in my life that would turn out to be.

A Feeling. I loved A Feeling. I had never heard anything like it before. Something about how this band sounded. The vocals. The music. I was in awe. This was 1987. We had no internet. I was 17. I set off in my shitty car in search of anything I could find on this band. I went to every indie record store I could find on Long Island. I drove to some pretty sketchy places. I found Chains Changed and The Fat Skier on vinyl. Those records were more of those sounds! Those incredible sounds! I loved it all. So much to take in, it was wonderful! I searched every music publication and zine for information on this band. I still have pictures and articles I had pasted on my wall in my room.

In May of 88 they played at the Ritz in NYC. The old Ritz. The Pixies opened. I brought a few of my friends with me to that show, and I remember standing there, slightly to the left, between Tanya and Kristin, toward the front. It was the House Tornado tour. I don’t think I even had the album at the time that they played so I didn’t really know all the songs they were performing but, god, did I know I loved this band. This was what I needed and this is what I found. Finally, I got my hands on House Tornado. I loved it, but it was dense. It took me years to really *get* that album but it’s still one of my favorites.

I never did send a letter to “mitch” listed in the House Tornado liner notes and join the fan club. I was far too shy for that. I didn’t know what to say. I was fine with loving them in my own little world. In September of ’88 I moved to Boston for college and Hunkpapa soon came out. That album still reminds me of that dorm room and its cinder block walls. Little did I know that a few months later I’d be meeting this “mitch”, because as it turns out Mitchell worked at BU where I was going to school. And coincidentally, we had a mutual friend.

I loved Boston. I knew I belonged in Boston when I visited with my family when I was about 12. I looked up at the brownstones along Storrow Drive as we drove into the city and knew right then that was where I needed to be. Coincidentally, Throwing Muses were a Boston band. And by now we’re starting to notice that there really are no coincidences.

Boston was perfect. It fit me perfectly. It was everything that was missing from my life on Long Island, where I grew up. I never felt like that was the place for me. In Boston, I belonged. I found great people. More great music. Many great experiences. I went to every single Throwing Muses show that happened in and around Boston with exceptions only for a couple of 21+ shows before I was old enough, and the time they opened for REM at Great Woods because I didn’t have a way to get there.

We regularly went to Providence to see the Muses. Often, we couldn’t get back because the last bus would leave before the show was over and no way were we leaving early. We did crazy things like meet people who’d drive us home, or we’d crash on someone’s friend’s floor at URI to take the morning bus back. It was all for the music. When I had a car we’d branch out and see Throwing Muses further out of Boston and Providence. Mitchell and I even traveled to the UK once and surprised Kristin on the streets of London when we ran into her before the gig.

I was at Leslie’s last show at the Living Room where I should have told her how much I loved her but I was far too terrified. I was at Tanya’s last show at the Marquee in NYC. I saw them play at a muddy mountain bike festival. I once saw them play 6 times in one month. I’ve seen them play probably something close to 50 times. This band. I’ve loved them since that first day I heard A Feeling. I’ve loved them every day since. And now comes Purgatory/Paradise and if anything I love them more than ever. I never expected them to put out another album, I try not to ever have expectations in general. But now that this is actually happening? The anticipation of that finished product is wonderful: the book, Kristin’s essays, David’s artwork, the CD and the sounds. I’m clearing my calendar the day I get my hands on this, so I can read, love and listen.


This’ll be about the music, but also not. A digression of the personal sort, I suppose.

This has been a quiet Sunday morning. I’ve needed it. I have always loved my mornings. I get up in the 5 o’clock hour and enjoy the darkness, the silence that only early morning can bring, until the birds start waking. I like to share the quiet with them, too. I haven’t had enough of that since school started. The children start so early and I’ve successfully conquered insomnia for the moment so I actually sleep. That combination shortens my morning quiet time.

This morning I awoke with Kristin’s new song, Some Dumb Runaway (to hear it, go to the KEXP stream) in my head. It’s so very beautiful. I haven’t listened to it in a while, so it was a pleasant surprise to find this in my brain today. Right now I don’t even need to listen to the actual song with my ears, my head hears it as it is. It rewinds and plays and backs up and plays and jumps around as I feel the parts that are significant. It’s not a particularly happy song (are any of them, really?) but it’s so goddamn *gorgeous*. That’s Kristin’s talent. To make sad or ugly or difficult things sound so incredibly beautiful. I’m so attracted to that contrast.

That contrast is important to recognize. Making bad sound nice. It lets you know that it’s OK, because it’s real and organic and true. I’ve been thinking a lot about this stuff lately, mainly stripping away layers of life, til you get to the core, universal underlying emotions. Doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, what you like, we are ALL the same at the basic foundational level. It makes it hard to be judgmental once you truly realize that. It’s been contributing to my stillness. My quest for stillness.

My acupuncturist has been teaching me stillness. I’m not sure if she intended on doing this beyond the needles, but I do know she has been using those needles to bring stillness to the body. But in our simple interactions, she’s making me think about these things, and that’s bringing stillness to my mind. I admire this woman, I’m so lucky to have her in my life. She can say one sentence to me that is so simple, yet there’s a depth within it, that will keep me thinking for weeks. I’m finding a serenity I haven’t had in a long time.

I wrote about my short hiatus from music several months ago. It was a difficult time, and to be honest, I had to stop listening to music because it started to hurt me. It’s never done that before. I’m happy that it is no longer doing that, and I’m finding a deeper serenity with it than I probably had before. Feeling them deeper, at that base emotive level. It’s nice there, because it’s real. Realness. Stillness. Goals. Tap into that and the songs tell you it’s all OK. We’re all the same. Our reactions to those emotions differ due to all the layers on top of them, but strip it all away and it’s all the same.

I think I digressed within my digression. Probably because Some Dumb Runaway fit so perfectly within my still morning. “…Away to your still house” (Cold Water Coming). Music. Kristin’s music. The perfect soundtrack for your still house. Even the screamy stuff. Because that can leave you still, too.

a hiatus undone

what an amazing way to wake up.

i wrote that hiatus post the other day because i could feel i was nearing the end of it. i was feeling something in the ether, a bit itchy, like I was holding out for something special, something that would strike someday, somehow, some way. Who knew that later that same day Kristin would post about a secret show that turned out to be the very next day.

no better way to break a fast than to see Kristin and Dave perform together opening for Black Francis. Holy crap. Such an amazing show. The only thing that could’ve made it better was if the people who had wanted to be there were able to be there. I wished more of Kristin’s listeners could have been there. Never can get enough love in a room.

Mississippi Kite · Sno Cat · White Suckers · Quick · Delicate Cutters · Krait · You Cage · Flooding · Your Dirty Answer · White Bikini Sand · Your Ghost (with Black Francis) · Wave of Mutilation (also with Black Francis)

Krait. I need to talk about Krait. I could never single out a favorite song until Krait. To me, Krait is perfect. But last night, last night Dave played the most incredible drums on Krait that just propelled that song to a whole new level. So good that I tried to record it on my phone but the sound is all blown out from the crap phone mic, so, well, now I just hope to see that again someday.

White Suckers. I’m so happy Kristin’s been playing White Suckers lately. White Suckers is one of those songs that (for me) was a bit overshadowed by the heavy hitters on the record – like Spain, Your Dirty Answer, etc… but years later it pops out and says “hey!” and you realize it’s an incredible song that ends up being one of your favorites. White Suckers had its hand raised in the back of the room all this time. It’s a song that’s been resonating with me for a good part of the past year, and I love it even more for that.

Kristin, Dave and Charles doing Wave of Mutilation. What a great little duet that turned out to be! Love, love, LOVED it. The one thing that struck me most was how beautiful Kristin’s voice sounded. It’s a rare day that you hear Kristin singing with someone, and her voice sounded SO pretty against Frank’s (yes, his names are all interchangeable, to me, anyway). I tried to record it halfway through because I loved it so much, but the sound was a bit much for my phone’s mic so that didn’t quite work out so well.

Kristin and Dave’s set had me all open and receptive to music. I was feeling it completely, SO HAPPY. By the time Black Francis’ set I couldn’t keep still in my chair, sorry row-mates. Loved that he opened with Nimrod’s Son. Loved all his solo songs, new songs, Pixies songs. Loved his set so much. So much fun. No complaints there. I’d love to rewind time and experience that night again. Or maybe rewrite this post to use the word ‘love’ a bit less. Nah.


Sometimes, I like a good hiatus. A small break. A fast of sorts. It’s a good thing to do sometimes. It’s not always easy, but I find it’s always worth it in the end.

Around the start of this month I didn’t really feel like listening to the music for a while. This is no offense to the music, of course, it’s just something I do every once in a while. We all know I listen to a LOT of Kristin/Muses/Fippy. DUH, it’s my favorite. Music doesn’t care if I step away from it for a while. It doesn’t get insulted or have its feelings hurt like people would. I still love it more than anything and that will never change. I didn’t so much make a “decision” to take a break per se, I just didn’t listen for a couple of days and it turned into a “thing”.

It’s been roughly 11-12 days now? I dunno, not really keeping track but it was around the start of the month so let’s go with that. Now it’s become a bit of a challenge. How long can I make it? I’m kinda clearing my mind a bit, and that’s very much needed. Coming back to the music after a long break like this is always sofuckingawesome and I think that’s why I’m doing it (at this point, anyway). When we reacquaint it’s so amazing. It becomes a rediscovery, the elation of being back with an old friend and it’s like you’ve never been apart. It’s so fun, eye-opening and wonderful. I crave that “holyshitthisisthebestthingieverheard” feeling. I can’t wait for it.

In the meantime I’ve been exploring. Mostly I tend to gravitate to 90’s music, songs that shaped my college life (oh, what I wouldn’t give to go back to that time). Old standbys. Those songs you really love and can always jump back to. Kitchens of Distinction. I loved that band so much back then. I still do. A lot of bands I liked back then didn’t have such staying power as Kitchens, who rank up there as one of my most favorite bands ever. Vic Chesnutt. I made it through The Salesman and Bernadette and part of Little and it just got too sad. Dinosaur Jr. Pond. Guilty pleasures I’m not telling you about, those are my secrets. Pavement. Pinback. Unintentionally listening to a lot of bands that start with the letter P. More stuff, too, but well, you get it.

I do that for a while, jump around, make playlists (I’m so witty, I call them “Other Music”). Then I start getting bored. I listen to Sirius radio, I jump around those stations like a hummingbird flits between flowers. I yell at the radio for sucking. I yell at the bands for making some sucky bullshit. Sometimes I’ll listen for a bit and wonder WHY someone thought that sounded good. It’s important to know what sucks, it helps you better recognize what doesn’t. Occasionally, very, very occasionally (perhaps I should say ‘rarely’), I will find a new song by a new band that I actually really, really like (The Men – Open Your Heart). Mostly though, even satellite radio has me hating more music than I like. I’m happy and encouraged by discovering The Men, because I really do have a hard time finding new and exciting music I really like.

This music exploration is for the most part fun, but it’s kinda like hanging out by yourself in a new city. You meet people and you drink and laugh and have a great, amazing time, but it’s lacking the comfort of good friends who truly know YOU. I’m missing that comfort, I think, but I have other favorites I have to somewhat fill that void. But at this point, I’m kinda starting to crave the music I know more intimately than any other. THAT is what I was going for.

I wanted to appreciate it completely. I never take the music for granted, but I wanted a fresh take on it. You can get too familiar to something, too used to it where you miss the fine details. Like mixing up your workout, to get your muscles working in a different way from what they’re used to, making them stronger than before. Stimulate the brain in another way. I’m finding my brain reaching out, it hears Kristin’s voice singing in the distance, it feels those songs tugging. I know they’re there and for now that’s comfort enough.

How long will I make it? Who knows. I like to make my own rules. Who knows when I’ll cave, but I’m a little excited about it, and I was kinda going for that, too. Half holding out to see if Kristin would post another video demo. Half challenging myself. I’ve been learning a lot about music as I make a half-assed attempt to play guitar. It’s making me think of music so differently now that I know a little about how to make it. That’s what’s been so fun about revisiting those old songs from my college days. I hear the fine details better now. It all makes more sense. I like to think I’m expanding my mind in this adventure, so when I pull Kristin’s songs out again I’ll find new things I hadn’t noticed before.

These songs never stop giving. They change based on who you are and where you are at that given moment. I hope that in our brief time apart I’ve opened new doors in my mind to where I can approach these songs from different angles and hear them in new and exciting ways. No other music seems to give me such vivid imagery, movies and mind pictures than Kristin’s. I can’t wait to see what they have to show me next.