Monday, August 2, 2010

To Shake A Memory

On the road back home from a cozy cabin in the woods, the lovely Laura Berger introduced me to one of her favorite artists, Bill Callahan of Smog. Every track of Callahan's conjurs up intensely ethereal imagery secured in an almost dream-like oscilation of intimacy and isolation. His lyricism is on another level entirely, and anything but accessible.
Using animalistic, natural metaphors, Callahan is a poet of the highest degree, leaving the listener free to associate his melodies with their richest, most personal memories. For me, I draw an instant connection from Callahan to Cormac McCarthy, the natural world, and Edgar Allen Poe. Like any good poet, he leaves much to interpretation, but his words are so essential I can't help but share some here.

From "Eid Ma Clack Shaw"

Last night I swear I felt your touch
Gentle and warm

The hair stood on my arms




Show me the way, show me the way, show me the way
To shake a memory

I flipped my forelock, I twitched my withers

I reared and bucked

I could not put my rider aground

All these fine memories are fuckin me down

I dreamed it was a dream that you were gone

I woke up feeling so ripped by reality
Love is the king of the beasts
And when it gets hungry it must kill to eat
Love is the king of the beasts
A lion walking down city streets

I fell back asleep some time later on

And I dreamed the perfect song
It held all the answers, like hands laid on
I woke halfway and scribbled it down
And in the morning what I wrote I read

It was hard to read at first but here's what it said:

Eid ma clack shaw

Zupoven del ba
Mertepy ven seinur

Cofally ragdah

Show me the way, show me the way, show me the way
To shake a memory

What is so innovative and instinctive about Eid Ma Clack Shaw is the nonsensical verse he remembers from a dream. So much of our subconscious, our gut instinct, is inexplicable and therefor never expressed. Many of our dreams never make sense, but what does that make them?

Another instant favorite is Jim Cain, a beautiful, fragmented lullaby:

I started off in search of ordinary things
How much of a tree bends in the wind

I started telling the story

Without knowing the end
The more upbeat, Dress Sexy At My Funeral, is almost unrecognizable as Callahan's but equally as genuine. If you care to get lost in more of Callahan's work, here are some of my favorites:
-The Wind and The Dove
-All Thoughts are Prey to Some Beasts
-Justice Aversion
-Rock Bottom Riser

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