Friday, April 27, 2007

Carry Me Back Home

Here is an mp3 of Christy and I performing one of my songs live last weekend.

mp3: Carry Me Back Home

Take out this new tower from the sky
Make my tongue fly straight and far and high
Every heart is reddening in time

This city's full of dead folk still awake
Take us to another far away
Promise me a place I can feel safe

Lift this darkening veil off from my eyes
Touch these stones and make them glow with fire
Each surrender carries me back home

Burried like a secret in the sea
Crashing waves are screaming constantly
Reach your lengthy hand in rescuing

Land us safely on some foreign grass
Take the tide away with all our past
Its the very least that I can ask

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Colby Stead - No

This last weekend brought the release of Colby Stead’s sophomore album simply entitled, “No”. It has been nearly three years since “So Normal It’s Different” and the growth is audible. As a chef enhances a golden consomm√© by reduction, Colby leaned out “No” to a sparse eleven songs, bringing out flavor without overindulgence. Featured musicians, Lisa Stead and Steven Gertsch, add vocal harmony and cello respectively, revealing studio work that is fluid and clear. It sounds as if the musicians are playing right inside your room or head.

One of the strongest tracks is “Invisible” a first person narration on emotional blindness. “I watched your heart fall, but I didn’t see it, I heard your voice call, but I didn’t hear it, you were invisible to me.” The ambiguous “you” in the song has given all that sentiment would allow, putting all self on the line but getting nothing in return. Yet curiously this person doesn’t seem to hold rancor or ill-will, “you did not need this, so you took my hand and gave it a kiss goodbye.” Even after rejection and unwilling reciprocation there is still room for the humane touch of lips. This earnest moment leaves the blind to consider, “Why couldn’t I tell…Why couldn’t I see?”

Another great moment on the album is the familial lament “Malice and Mud.” In the song a home is dying, children and parents are admitting some stark and depressing realizations about one another. The chorus is a poignant question, “Why won’t the rain come and wash away all the sin and the blood? Or buried we will stay beneath the guilt, below the shame, covered up with malice and mud.” The dirge culminates in a heartfelt plea for reconciliation, “Let the wounded parts show…let all of our tears fall, let them fall, let them fall.”

A big portion of Colby Stead’s artistry is geared toward creating an environment where communication, admittance, acceptance, and change can occur. These songs are a great representation of where he is as an artist and show his ability as an arranger. All who know him also know his capability of multi-instrumentation and production, which I’m sure we’ll hear more of when he’s ready. For now though, “No” does all it sets out to do, if you as a listener are willing to hear.

Please head over to to purchase the album.

MP3: Invisible

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Take Away Shows

The 45th installment in the "Take Away Shows" series at Blogotheque features Andrew Bird wandering the cobbled streets of Paris showcasing his violin, guitar, and his songbirdy whistle.

Check it out along with other fantastic artists in the acoustic out-of-doors displaying their art between honking cars and confused onlookers.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Border Trilogy

For the last few months, between book team reading, I’ve been working my way through Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy, which consists of All The Pretty Horses, The Crossing, and Cities of the Plain.

Each of these books feels different from the other, yet combine in epic form. All the Pretty Horses seems to be an anti-western in a lot of ways. McCarthy succeeds in redefining the American West. John Grady Cole is no longer the “hero” who always overcomes the odds, defeating the antagonist, reconciling himself with God and Land. His characters are always coming to a deeper knowledge of things that are rarely defined. This book in particular puts the character of the all American cowboy to the test.

The Crossing is more challenging than All the Pretty Horses. Main character Billy Parham crosses the U.S. Mexico border three different times and, as he says, never found what he was looking for any of those times. He continually runs into profound campesino philosophers ready and willing to share their view of the world with Billy. Yet we never see which of these philosophies he integrates into his own belief system if any. In ways he comes out of the novel more confused than he was at its inception.

Cities of the Plain is more dialogue and plot oriented than its predecessors, and follows the surviving players from the first two novels. At its heart it explores themes of love and forgiveness and mankind’s role in each as well as God’s. The climax turns the gut, and is unforgettable.

There are few clear answers to the many questions and possibilities presented throughout the trilogy, and as such, I suppose, it becomes an accurate representation of life. The one problem here is that I cannot recommend these books to anyone who doesn’t speak Spanish, because so much of the dialogue in Spanish. After Blood Meridian and The Road, I’d but the Border Trilogy next on my list of McCarthy favorites.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Peter & the Wolf

Head over to the fabulous Daytrotter to check out several fantastic Peter and the Wolf tracks from the South by Southwest sessions, including an alternate version of "Lightness" and a Randy Newman-esque version of "Silent Movies."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I've been up late lately
In the belly of a whale
Groping around inky air
Brushing against drunken cousins
Sitting by mistake on a desert war
I took to be a cushion
Cracking my skull on the bruised
Heel of my brother's foot

How ridiculous it sometimes feels
After fishing these waters
And staying up late lately
In the belly of a whale
Groping around inky air
For the Light of the World

Friday, April 13, 2007

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Heavy Boots.

I liked this book, but I wanted to like it so much more than I actually did. I’ve had several good friends recommend it and was really excited, so maybe my feelings are more of a case of over-expectation, so although I quite enjoyed the read I was left feeling a bit low.

Jonathan Safran Foer is young and amazingly talented. The sky is the limit for him. He has such a natural knack for humor and this book is laugh out loud in parts. He is full of absolute wit and creativity, but I was left feeling that his cleverness may have come back to bite him on a certain level. I don’t know how to explain what I feel about it other than to say I think I saw glimpses of what this book could have meant to me, which made it all that much harder when I didn’t get it. I wanted to close the last page and weep for Oskar and be exhilarated about a revelation. I wanted epiphanies and heartbreak. But ultimately I closed the last page and found myself wondering why I was left wanting those things. I don’t even really have a clear answer.

I’ve definitely considered the fact that the shortcoming likely lies within myself, or my mood, or the attention (or lack of) that I paid. So there is that. But it could be that these characters' idiosyncrasies and their curious eclecticisms took away from the actual human drama they were going through. There are so many things I enjoyed about this book, so I don’t want to be a sad sack. I am really, really glad I read it. I found a lot of eye opening ideas, loved the quest, and found joy in the off-the-wall creativity, obviously. I guess I just wanted a little bit more (which I know about).

Thursday, April 12, 2007

So It Goes

Vonnegut is dead. When I was in school I studied Breakfast of Champions and was simultaneously excited and appalled. This man's satire would have given Jonathan Swift a goosing, for he went well beyond modest proposals. After graduation I went on to Cat's Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five. In a long list of authors who have changed my life Vonnegut, in truth, isn't that high, but there can be no doubt that he has been a big influence in our time. He was a POW during the firebombings of Dresden, and wrote about it like nobody else has done or ever will.

Farewell Mr. Vonnegut. If only we could say, "everything was beautiful and nothing hurt."

Monday, April 02, 2007

O! McCarthy

The big news this last week was that esteemed author Cormac McCarthy will be appearing on Oprah, since she has chosen The Road, as the book club selection for the next month. What makes this big news isn't just the mere fact that she chose the book, but that McCarthy is insanely hermetic and practically never grants an interview (I think the last one was in 1992). It can be read here, and is pretty lame for the most part, as if the interviewer couldn't get much information so just gives a synopis of McCarthy's work to date.

The Road was an amazing book. Not for the faint of heart, as most his stuff is, and cringing in parts, but a great father/son tale of apocolypse and maybe even redemption?

I make fun of Christy's TIVO habits with Oprah, but I will be front and center for this one, ready for some insights as to what makes this wordsmith tick.