Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Write It Down!

I was talking to an older, cooler guy about Talk Talk one time. I was in my twenties. I knew the “It’s My Life” single from having held tightly to whatever MTV offered me in my early teens, but I didn’t know how to respond when he spoke of Spirit of Eden as a work anyone who knew anything about music would revere. Needless to say, I got on board at the first available opportunity (found it used) and felt relief when I discovered it was something I could listen to with pleasure. I’m really getting into it! I probably exclaimed the next time I saw him. There wasn’t much in the way of decipherable lyrics, but it got through to me, deepened my take on all sorts of things—however it is these things work—and opened me up to receiving all manner of weirdness even when, perhaps especially when, I couldn’t quite say what all I thought it was saying. It helped me to not have to actually.
I’m in Talk Talk territory again with Aaron Roche’s Plainspeak. Plenty of songs with lyrics though. Lyrics which deepen, rather than halt, the get-fresh flow. What we’re getting, Plainspeak says to me anyway, is what we’re seeing (and vice-versa). There’s a liturgical groove going on, but liturgical in the sense that it’s the work to be done by the people, the work the music does even as it urges us to keep doing it. “Write it down!” is the most ecstatic vocal moment (on “Fiction”) and it comes to us as a kind of poetic-prophetic summons. Take the raw data of your experience, what you’re seeing, and deploy it creatively, creatively and therefore redemptively. This is the work there is to do. Get busy.
And with this sensibility concerning the earthbound “What we have is who we are to each other right about now” fact of the matter, there’s also a sad lamentation that is nevertheless strangely sweet. No more big deals or big splashes. Just people. Unless what we mean by big is the very good news of a few people getting through to each other, taking the edge off, the rare event of someone listening to someone else. It’s “A Weaker Vision” I’m talking about: “Fell the tree of the punk poetic….Someone important isn’t listening/We’re all the same around here.” And I haven’t even said anything about Tim Hinck’s wind and string arrangements yet, because I don’t know how to. It enriches. All of it. And it signals a different way of looking at each other and thinking about ourselves. I suppose this is what I’m looking for whenever I tune in to anything at all.
There’s so much more to say, and I might have put it out of order. Aaron’s in New York City now with his genius partner Whitni, but they remain part of a Nashville-ish collective I’ll always associate with Nathan Phillips of the Winston Jazz Routine & Choir at Your Door, Julie Lee, Action!, and—if I can take a deep breath and feel this cool—Sarah and myself. I now direct everyone who still participates in musical culture by performing the cultivating work of buying music to do so with Aaron's. And for those nearer (but not necessarily dearer) in the driving distance sense, let it be known that Aaron’s bringing the Plainspeak to Downtown Pres. this Sunday night at 7 in the pm. It will mightily rock. We know it will. Insert souls there.


Tim Johnson said...

Mr. Dark: I first heard you refer to "cosmic plainspeak" when I was at the Crowder conference this past fall. You put language on something that I've been striving to manifest at my church in Minneapolis. Each week while the offering is being taken, we try to cover songs that have the kind of lyrical content which both you and I find so captivating.

One artist in particular that has grabbed my attention recently is Wintersleep. Last week we did a song of theirs called "New Inheritors of Earth." I think they are retelling the Genesis story--of brokenness, failing, hope and redemption--in this songs lyrics. Just a snippet:

New inheritors of earth, you overestimate your worth//Reverberations of a reverie, the false certificate of birth


No vaccination for your curse; maybe the drugs don't work//the watercolors of your memory, soft salutations to the murk

It's beautiful, and the music serves the lyrics in exactly the way it should.

All of this to say, thanks for the way your writing/speaking helps me process my own thoughts. You've been hugely influential in my recent journey.

Junking With Julie said...


Cass Midgley said...

at first comforted that there exists circles in which you question whether your own coolness merits inclusion, followed by a stop and wonder if that isn't a "big splash" and not "just people".

I listened to the 11 tracks they have streaming from and enjoyed it. I don't know whether I'm cool enough to "get it" entirely but I was caught up in it somehow.

Thanks for sharing!


jdaviddark said...

"Caught up in it somehow" is what there is, Cass. We're all the same around here. Thanks for listening. And that stuff about being cool is just me trying to be funny. Thanks to SCTV and a few formative friends from the age of...say....10 on, I've been firmly entrenched in the conviction that being a geek is the only shot at coolness anyone anywhere ever has. I even feel cool saying it.
Thank you for the kind words, Tim.
And thank you too, Julie. I please to aim.

Ryan said...

sweet. i real dig winston jazz routine & nathan phillips. haven't heard this other stuff so i'm excited about it. so, thanks.

Mary said...

I attended the Chattanooga show last night(and took 7 Lee students with me) and it blew us all away. Wow. Transcendent. The only word I can really use to describe it. Your write up here speaks the truth, brother. If I was not teaching in the a.m., I would seriously consider driving over to Nashville to see this again. You are in for something beautiful.