The Unmoved Mover
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


The Red River - "The Birds and the Boats"
The Red River - "The Birthday Song"

Canada turned 140 on Sunday and I, like most Quebecers, celebrated by moving house. What began as a humanitarian effort to save tenants from the inconvenience and indignity of being evicted and left without a place to go during the winter, has persisted in the quaint form of Quebec's Moving Day. Every July 1, while the rest of the country drinks Molson beer and oohs at firework displays, Quebecers pack up and move out, en masse. The sight of streets shut down by tens of behemoth moving vans, hundreds of sweat soaked men and women dragging dollies overloaded with cardboard boxes - themselves filled mostly with junk - underscores the surreality that is the interswitching of dwelling places we call Déménagement.

I write this from my new writing place. I used to write on a big white desk, facing a wall and bulletin board with important numbers I never called and menus for pizza restaurants I often did. Now I write on a small red table, facing an open window through which I currently see a woman on a bench on the street a storey below. She's wiping what is either blood or ice cream from her knee with a napkin. Beyond, I can see two trees of equal height, separated by about ten feet - one is full and forest green, the other sparse and the colour of iceberg lettuce. They're swaying in the wind, always, unfailingly in time with The Red River's new ep, On Your Birthday. This is weird, I know; I've listened to the ep three times through now to make sure.

Past the trees, my sightline extends forever. I can see rolling green hills tens of miles away, and Maine beyond them. With a good pair of binoculars and a strategically placed mirror, I could probably see all the way to California, where The Red River's Bill Roberts would be ever so carefully recording an acoustic guitar with a four track.

Roberts, like his clear inspiration Phil Elvrum, writes songs about people and about nature and songs about people disguised as songs about nature, and in so doing necessarily confronts our relative and absolute impermanence. People change, people falter, people die; the sea keeps flowing, the mountains keep standing, the sky keeps watch overhead.

But then, as Roberts knows, the distinctions are not always so easily delineated. As much as people change, they don't; as much as they falter, they are redeemed; as much as they die, they live on.

Moving is like a birthday in that it confronts one simultaneously with an end and a beginning. All that we bring from the old to the new - our books, our records, our friends and family - is a tether, tying us to ourselves; but at the same time, our new stomping ground promises a new us, the us who will have lived here in this as of yet unexplored place.

The Red River's new work is less joyful than his previous one, last year's Some Songs About a Flood. Roberts's ep is sadder and more contemplative than his earlier effort, though not without hope. If he were a sea, he would be slightly drained, but still flowing; if he were a mountain, he'd be eroded, but still standing. After all, to paraphrase the philosopher, you can't step in the same Red River twice.


Posted by Jordan at July 3, 2007 8:11 PM

thank you

Posted by Samuel at July 4, 2007 1:21 AM

God damn, this man is bloody brilliant

Posted by Charles Barksque at July 4, 2007 2:50 AM

thanks for a lovely piece of writing. wonderfully written, learned something about quebec, and as always, the music is great.

you, you're a national treasure you.

Posted by oracle monkey at July 4, 2007 4:51 AM

send bill a message on mysapce if you want to buy a cd!

Posted by allison at July 7, 2007 4:29 PM

OK, this is the one I was talking about yesterday. I'll go read the other one now.

Posted by Joel Taylor at July 15, 2007 6:31 PM

Post a comment

(Please be patient, it can be slow.)
about said the gramophone
This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

To hear a song in your browser, click the and it will begin playing. All songs are also available to download: just right-click the link and choose 'Save as...'

All songs are removed within a few weeks of posting.

Said the Gramophone launched in March 2003, and added songs in November of that year. It was one of the world's first mp3blogs.

If you would like to say hello, find out our mailing addresses or invite us to shows, please get in touch:
Montreal, Canada: Sean
Toronto, Canada: Emma
Montreal, Canada: Jeff
Montreal, Canada: Mitz

Please don't send us emails with tons of huge attachments; if emailing a bunch of mp3s etc, send us a link to download them. We are not interested in streaming widgets like soundcloud: Said the Gramophone posts are always accompanied by MP3s.

If you are the copyright holder of any song posted here, please contact us if you would like the song taken down early. Please do not direct link to any of these tracks. Please love and wonder.

"And I shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and I will never grow so old again."
about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet.
Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
our patrons
Said the Gramophone does not take advertising. We are supported by the incredible generosity of our readers. These were our donors in 2013.
watch StG's wonderful video contest winners

our favourite blogs
(◊ means they write about music)

Back to the World
La Blogothèque
Weird Canada
Destination: Out
Endless Banquet
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe)
Ill Doctrine
A London Salmagundi
Words and Music
Petites planétes
Gorilla vs Bear
Silent Shout
Clouds of Evil
The Dolby Apposition
Awesome Tapes from Africa
Matana Roberts
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews
i like you [podcast]
Nicola Meighan
radiolab [podcast]
CKUT Music
plethoric pundrigrions
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater
The Clear-Minded Creative
Torture Garden
Passion of the Weiss
Juan and Only
Horses Think
White Hotel
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin)
Uno Moralez
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Song, by Toad
In Focus
WTF [podcast]
The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross)
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
The Hood Internet

things we like in Montreal
st-viateur bagel
café olimpico
Euro-Deli Batory
le pick up
kem coba
le couteau
au pied de cochon
mamie clafoutis
tourtière australienne
chez boris
alati caserta
vices & versa
+ paltoquet, cocoa locale, idée fixe, patati patata, the sparrow, pho tay ho, qin hua dumplings, caffé italia, hung phat banh mi, caffé san simeon, meu-meu, pho lien, romodos, patisserie guillaume, patisserie rhubarbe, kazu, lallouz, maison du nord, cuisine szechuan &c

drawn + quarterly
+ bottines &c

casa + sala + the hotel
blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
passovah productions
le cagibi
cinema du parc
pop pmontreal
yoga teacher Thea Metcalfe

Cult Montreal
The Believer
The Morning News
The Skinny