Original version appears on Beasts of Seasons. A few summers ago, we found an old washtub in the antique store around the corner. We bought it to use as a fire pit in the backyard, and there began a nightly ritual of sitting and watching the fire go out, tracing the smoke as it rose and weaved through the trees. The summer passed so quickly, and as we observed the glowing embers melting into the black night, we often felt we were watching time slip from our grasp. I wrote Spirited thinking of that washtub, of faces reflecting orange and gold, and of the longing to press ourselves inside of a moment as soon as we realize it is escaping us. The washtub itself escaped us, borrowed by the neighbors to be returned the following spring. Left to the autumn rain, it’s now a skeleton of rust and ash. (A note about the performance: The drums are a combination of Sean and Micah. Micah masters the clickety-clack while Sean, is playing piano with one hand and Floor Tom and cymbal with the other).
“Where Have All Your Good Words Gone”
Original version appears on Beasts of Seasons. Upon finding myself at a loss for words, always finding myself at a loss for words… I decided to follow my frustration, and began thinking of mortality as having nothing left to offer the world – no rhymes, no poems, no words of kindness or clarity, no truths to pull from my gut. Even more frightening, the idea of looking back and finding so many words wasted on sarcasm and half-truths. It’s a terrifying way to think about death. (Note the live version is quite different from the recorded version, as it’s lacking the luminous viola of Eyvind Kang but features the haunting saw of Micah Rabwin and Sean Ogilvie balancing melodica, ukelin and drums).
Original version appears on Beasts of Seasons. Glory is a collection of images, moments of tenderness and reverence, of loss and of new life. Not about my family exactly, but certainly reminding me of my family.
Original version appears on Bridge Carols. I don’t remember a moment of writing this song, but I have hummed and sang the melody to myself for a long time, with different lyrics floating through. At some point, it just shaped itself into a song. I had intended to include it in Beasts of Seasons. But in the end, Beasts of Seasons was a record dwelling in the human body, where O Frailty seemed to dwell out in the stars. It’s more of a cosmic view of mortality. It ended up fitting perfectly in a collaboration with sound artist Ethan Rose (to be released this February). The version with Ethan is much more fluttery, pitchy and strange, broken down after running it through a tape machine for several hours. Sean and Micah and I sat down at the piano one day and came up with a more classical chorale approach.
Original version appears on Funeral Song. Despite the title, I’ll always consider this a love song. Understanding love in a way that if death comes, I won’t fear the letting go, or being let go. Like most people, I often wonder if I’m capable of such love. But I suppose the song is less a testimony of my own selflessness, and more a hope, or perhaps faith, that my love might be realized in this way. Although it’s such a simple composition, I chipped away at Funeral Song for a long time, and of all the songs on Beasts of Seasons, it’s probably the most meaningful to me. I hope to sing it as an old lady someday.