Sunday, August 03, 2008

Songs That Might Otherwise Pass You By

Darryl Blood, "Oslo" (Yousendit link, but I originally downloaded the song from his Myspace)

I've always been attracted to songs about travelling, about destination--where we're going and where we've been. The concept of "somewhere else between, somewhere I shouldn't go" certainly peaks my interest. Darryl Blood's stuck "somewhere else between". He's "looking for something", and he wants to be someone. I can certainly commiserate with the feeling of being lost, being "in-between", not sure of one's place or even one's identity. Being one of the many unemployed has weakened my sense of identity a little more, too (though really only when I let myself get down. Generally I'm happy being known as "blogger" and "podcaster" to you all.) It's nice to hear my listlessness put to a folkish pop beat, though--complete with hand claps (I love hand claps), sparkling guitar and violin. It takes the edge off of feeling dislocated.


Cover for Darryl Blood's album Making All Things New

Marc Gunn, "Orange Kittens Mew" (The artist gave me permission to post this. I used Sendspace. If you click on it and sends you to a page, the download link is at the bottom of the page.)

Though most of the music I post would be considered "folk" (of all varieties), most people who know me know I have a very green, very deep spot in my soul for celtic music (and where did a lot of American folk music originate from, anyway?). Yes, I will snap up any songs that mention the words "paddy", "aye", "ale" or "drunken". I have a weird collection of music. Now, you add humor to that mix? I will be there in a heartbeat, most likely already holding a bumper sticker and wearing a t-shirt. Marc Gunn is one half of the great traveling celtic music group "Brobdingnagian Bards" (and folks--this marks the first time I didn't have to look up the spelling. I just recently began to pronounce it quasi-correctly). The Bards are from Austin, Texas, but they seem homegrown to me because I've seen them so many times at Dragon*Con (T- 25 days...) Marc also releases albums on his own (in addition to podcasts, newsletters and probably crossword puzzles) and the most recent album, Whiskers In The Jar: Irish Songs For Cat Lovers, marries two of my favorite genres: Celtic and Cat. Yes, "Cat" is its own genre. Don't believe me? Try to challenge a cat on the subject. I dare ye. One of my favorites on the new album, "Orange Kittens Mew" reserves the solemnity of the original song, "Morning May Dew", but instead of singing of the trees and the birds and those who are "dead and gone", Marc Gunn rewrites the song to focus on something less tangible, more unsettling and much, much more archaic: the strange hold cats have on their caretakers. No one will ever truly understand this unshakeable bond. Why is it that no matter how many times my cat Quatsch howls during the night (usually beginning at 3 a.m. and ending when fed) I still coo at her when I'm petting her. I still call her "pretty baby" no matter how derisive her expression is towards me. She is the Princess, nay, the Queen. Her brother Chester is the Knight (Quatsch doesn't trust him to be King) and I am the Jester. I don't know how I became subservient to a 10 pound fluff ball. I don't think Marc Gunn truly knows either, but he understands the spell the kitten's mew holds on us.


Torre and his caretaker, Marc Gunn (Tiziano not pictured, but always present)

Caleb Engstrom, "The Light In The Room" (Not a direct link--link leads to the Daytrotter page where the file can be downloaded).

This fits in with the theme of placement from the first song. "The Light In The Room" speaks to the doubt we all have about our choices regarding the direction we travel (and the wisdom of sometimes just being inert). He says that as long as he doesn't "give up" and "keeps at it", he can discover exactly where to go. He questions whether he will ultimately make the right choice, though, regardless of how hard he tries. He worries that wherever he goes he'll feel like he's at "the wrong table in the wrong kitchen")*. Perseverance leads him somewhere, but the wrong where. He doesn't want to "sit in the dark", but when he moves he doesn't feel like he's going in the right direction. He's being pulled between nowhere and somewhere he doesn't belong. I understand those doubts very well: working so hard towards a goal and then beginning to question if the goal is right for me at all. Am I ignoring subtle clues the universe is throwing at me? It's good to know that I'm not the only one with such uncertainties; as long as talented people with guitars feel similarly, I'll never be completely in the dark.

*I would suggest that before he decides he's in the wrong kitchen, he should look to see what kind of coffee, tea and/or beer the kitchen stocks. That would make a huge difference to be regarding which kitchen is right.


There is a lot of light in this room, as well as vertical lines. And a person called Caleb Engstrom

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