Said the Gramophone - image by Matthew Feyld
by Sean
Jim Holland painting


Eleanor Friedberger - "The River (Destroyer cover)" [buy on bandcamp]

Tougher times, these days. There's something circadian about it - you're up, you're down, eventually you're up again.

"There's something circadian about it!" I've shouted this now: shouted it in an alley, at a friend six-and-a-half feet away. What a world.

"You study your braille / you listen to the hail outside," Eleanor Friedberger sings. When Dan Bejar recorded this it was shiny, sturdy, blasted by cloud-coloured light. Here now it's a doomed demo, a recording never finished or properly released. Here now it feels like a coronavirus tune, a dirge for this comedy, this tragedy, these 224 spilling seconds.

I thought I could handle repetition. I thought I flourished in repetition. Scheduled days, habit. But tonight these groundhog days are wearing me out. Not loss, grief, worry: just the ache of a groove worn down. I'm nearly a broken record.

It hailed yesterday. Why didn't I register it as a splendour? Why was it just one more thing?

You're living, you're breathing
You try to believe in, but you don't believe

I'd like it to hail inside the house.

(painting by jim holland)

by Sean

Bad Bunny ft Sech - "Ignorantes".

Today I played with my son in the living-room, a game of pigs and yeti, scampering over mountaintops, and as I did so I listened to Bad Bunny, because I have taken to listening to new music while we play, these days, because I can't listen to music the ways I normally do. The reason I was listening to Bad Bunny was because I like what I've already heard by him, but mostly because Nat likes him, and I trust her taste (with the exception of Berlioz, ai ai ai), but at a certain point I was listening not because of Nat, not because of anyone else besides Bad Bunny himself: I was listening to "Ignorantes" for the fifth time in a row, like a tonic, like drinking a healthful tonic, another dose of quinine and orange juice. This sad song was glinting in the afternoon's grey light, it was lifting my heart, it was soundtracking the swine and the snowman and the endless avalanches. I thought about the strangeness of the way a song can travel; in that way it's not like a novel, a novel can't serve so many functions. When Sech and Bad Bunny sat down to write "Ignorantes" - with their feelings heavy in their chests, heartbroken or pretending, lost in memory - they could not have guessed their song would come here to pandemic-stricken Montreal; that it would to be a comfort, a tonic, floating over mountaintops in a cloud-tinted living-room, where son and father play.

----

I hope it does you some good, too.

by Sean

Shotgun Jimmie - "Skype Date".

A child is shrieking through the wall. Every morning someone practices their saxophone. "When have I ever been shaggier?" Joni asks herself. She is undyed and lonely. She has worn her fur coat for the past three days because "why not?" She wonders how long it will be before she can send it for dry cleaning. She wonders how you know when a grapefruit is inedible. She wonders what she would do if her computer died - "buy a new one?" she guesses. It's raining outside. Joni considers sitting and just watching it. Until 5pm. Until Paul calls at 5pm. She wants to be ready when he calls at 5pm. They barely know each other but Joni will take what she can. She is thinking of singing for him, because that would impress him. That would be something to do. [buy]

P.S.:

by Sean
Loops


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.

[buy]

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)