Said the Gramophone - image by Keith Shore

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by Sean

Nova Nova - "Prisoner's Song". [buy]

"It's like groundhog day," Julie said, every day like the one before, and yet every evening we sit staring at our screens and squinting into the future, trying to envision it, stuck in a loop yet imagining the unlooped life, the moment the loop gets broken, the ring unrung, is it next week or is it next year? what will it be like? what is it like right now, really like, beyond the veneer of statistics and street-corners?

This circling-back, this asking-again: it feels itself like a cage. Not just when does it end?, but when do I get to stop wondering these things? And obviously I don't know the answer; and obviously you already know I don't. But when I listen to "Prisoner's Song," which is to me the most precious residue of a prior musical age, a downtempo age, from way back in 1986, the thought I think is: gotta sing. Overtop of that loop, endless and banal: just sing. Like Márta Sebestyén: sing, sing. Find the downbeat, find the swing - find the sad song or the glad one, whatever's shadowing your heart. Make a melody out of what's happening, try to trace it on the world.

by Sean
Lady in the lake

Nap Eyes - "Fool Thinking Ways".

And we also have to be forgiving. You probably know this already. You have probably forgiven yourself for that angry thought. For that quick riposte. For that phonecall unanswered. You have probably forgiven yourself for wasting the hour, the afternoon, the night, the day. You have forgiven yourself - surely you have - for declining to post on your blog yesterday. Surely you are not carrying this anguish around with you. Surely you are not locked inside the house with it.

Have you come a long way? Do you know wherefrom? Nap Eyes' Nigel Chapman is one of rock's rare mystics - what the Victorians sometimes called a "medium." He sees visions in things - fires, brambles, brick walls in the rain. The good news is that unlike Jim (or Van) Morrison, Chapman uses his powers exclusively for good. He is a healer. A cleric. If he came to my home I would not let him in but he would somehow heal me through the window, one palm raised to the glass. He wants the best for us - for me, for you, you can hear it in his voice. And I want the best for him. I want him to cure his fool thinking ways. I want him to find the clarity, the chords, he's looking for. One day, after all of this is over, I want him to stand before a lake and watch a sword rise out of it. Chapman will accept the hilt. He will raise the weapon over his head*. Something will glimmer inside him. Then Nap Eyes' bassist will help him carry it back to the garage.

* I am aware that clerics can't actually wield bladed weapons.

[procure the splendid Snapshot of a Beginner]

by Sean
A woman tiptoeing

Lina_Paül Refree - "A Mulher que já foi tua".

I understand it to be true that if you stand on your tip-toes all day, your highest tip-toes, then tomorrow you will be taller. And if tomorrow you stand on your tip-toes, your highest tip-toes, then you will be even taller the next day. And so on, and so forth, until you are giant, a towering giant, with legs like spires, looming over your city. I understand it to be true that if you are safe today, all day, then tomorrow we will be safer. And if tomorrow you remain safe, then the next day safer, and the next and the next, on and on, until the day when it is impossible for any of us to be safer. We will be as safe as we can be. Then we will come out of our homes and sing in throngs, whack tetherballs, kiss friends on the lips. We will totter happily over all the crowded sidewalks, like (wise) fools.


by Sean
Image by Charles Addams

Chairhouse - "cowboy song". [buy]

On Saturday, three roommates recorded this song at their home in Atlanta. It was a good use of time. 152 seconds well spent. It was perhaps, I hope, their best use of any 152 seconds this week. It is hard to imagine much better, and I do not think it is fair to expect most days to contain 152 consecutive seconds as worthwhile as these 152 seconds - this despite the fact that one day contains five hundred and sixty-eight 152-second segments. Listen to that bassline. Listen to that wheezing synthesizer. Listen to the sunshine/raindrop lilt/wiggle of the vocal. These are strange days. I am trying not to ask very much of them. I am trying to be kind to myself, and to my days. "Cowboy Song" seems like a very small outpouring of kindness. If this is what we aspire to - this much kindness, one "Cowboy Song"'s worth - and aspire not expect: I think that would be good. I think it would be good for us, from Atlanta to Montreal and then over the water to wherever anybody is, quarantined in a shantytown or making hay with penguins on their giant clod of ice.

(cartoon by Charles Addams)

by Sean

Magnolia Electric Co. - "Hold on Magnolia (Sun Session version)".

Another snowstorm today. But I have seen the photographs. Images from out west, and down south, and faraway climes. I have seen the teases of sprouting tulips in my own front yard. I will watch them from my window, when the snow melts. It won't be long now before even our own lilac begins to bud. Or the magnolia a few doors over. Or all the daffodils, making golden eyes at each other, taking in sunlight and rain and the cities' unclean air. Making it all spring.

Not long now, I think.

(Seven years that Jason Molina's gone. Hope you found peace, JM.)


by Sean
Tree farm

Astral Swans - "Strange Prison"

"There is no point / trying to run," sings Matthew Swann. "In my head / it's a strange prison." Astral Swans did not write this song for 2020's early spring. They wrote it for the everyday and all its habitual monsters. But in these strange, rare days this grey song glimmers. There's a hopefulness to its lament, like a drummer-boy at the front of a brigade, and as always Astral Swans are painters of echo, wielders of reverb, offering reminder after reminder that some things pass through walls.


(photo source)

by Sean

Max de Wardener - "Bismuth Dream".

I spend my day looking at changing numbers. Green numbers, red numbers, yellow numbers. If the numbers have been printed in an interesting or especially sans-serif font, they seem bland. If they are serifed, or large, or black or red on white, they seem dire. They change. They tick up and down, noiselessly. The numbers mean so much. They are important; they predict the future. They're also just numbers. This morning I was looking at the numbers, selecting and unselecting some of them, copy and paste, graph and compare, and then I looked away from the numbers at my piece of toast on the plate, and the way the sunlight fell across that toast, with the distant sound of laughter through the apartment wall, and instead of attending to the numbers on the screen I simply counted in my head, from one to ten.

I felt hopeful suddenly, as if I had received an inoculation.


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