May Have Never Heard Before

"I want to hear something with horns," I say, finally.
"Cool," John DeVore replies.

I continue shuffling through the pile nearest me, and soon, I find what I'm looking for: In the Reins, a seven-song collaboration between Calexico and Iron & Wine.

"Have you heard this one?" I ask, handing the CD to John.
He takes the CD, questions and admires its quiet and nameless cover art, turns it on its side to read the spine, and: "Oh! Calexico. No, I haven't heard this."
Happy and satisfied, I announce: "Track three."

John cues the track. I move towards the couch. "Sit in the center," John urges.

Track three of In the Reins is called "A History of Lovers," a story of a man perhaps meant to murder:

Louise came to rescue me, missing the irony
Blood made her heart change its beating
I hope that she's happy, I'm blamed for the death
Of a man she found better than me

I move to the center of the couch, anxious. And then. I was not prepared. I could never have been prepared. How could I have been? And, I've found, it's been the same way each time since: I am caught off guard. I would like for this never to end. I want never to be prepared.

Monty says he is happy for me. He is happy, but he is also jealous. Jealous of these first few hours I spend re-experiencing my favorite songs. He says:

You are where we would all love to return.

How special this seems, and sad. It hadn't occurred to me. I hadn't thought of it having to end. But, maybe that's what it's like to be ready for love.

"Do you think you're ready?" she asked me.
"Really ready?"

Maybe to love is to see no end, to never be concerned with the possibility of loss. Or maybe that's just stupidity, carelessness, ignorance, the whole man before the crippling crash.

For three minutes and nine seconds, from the opening strum of thick acoustic guitar to the finale of glorious trumpet rush and triumphant cymbal splash, I sit, unable to hide my smile, no control whatsoever over my stupid, silly grin. I am happy. It is so special. To have this happening in my own living room


Thank you. I can't believe I have a listening room. I hear myself think: I can't believe I have a listening room, I can't believe I have a listening room, I wonder if it's a good listening room, I wonder how big my sweet spot is…

And then, "Red Dust" begins.
"This is what I was waiting for," John says. "This is when I like them the most. When everyone is doing something that seems so simple, but there's really so much going on."

I nod. It's all the space in between, it seems to me. The simple riffing, the notes dancing and twisting, the spare drumming all together creating just so much aloof and almost careless (or perhaps better to say: carefree) ambiguity, all leaving so much space for interpretation and misinterpretation, raising questions that beg to be answered, or if not answered — because what perfection really wants to be uncovered, what puzzle really wants to be solved? — at least approached, discussed, wanted. The space left clean compels and keeps and holds.

"Women like mystery," JA tells me.
"Screw it," I say, stupidly.

Ward's picture

For me, that sense of amazement at how good your favorite songs sound never seems to go away. And you can always add new gear :-)Stephen: You should check out the new Dios (malos) and Rogue Wave discs. Good stuff.

Stephen Mejias's picture

>You should check out the new Dios (malos) and Rogue Wave discs. Good stuff. These are two discs I just read about last week, actually, and was thinking of picking up. With your added recommendation, I'm making it a definite. Thanks.

Ward's picture

Glad to share the love. It was on your recommendation during your CES coverage that I checked out Death From Above 1979. So thanks for that. And one of these days I'll get around to giving Sonic Youth a chance. Just never has been a priority, you know. So much good music, so little time.

Stephen Mejias's picture

>It was on your recommendation during your CES coverage that I checked out Death From Above 1979. So thanks for that. Wow, I'm happily surprised - I'm always happily surprised to learn that someone read something I wrote - and honored that you'd take the recommendation. You're welcome; I'm glad you liked it. I remember when I first heard it, I knew right away that I had to share it with my friend, Dave, the drummer in my band. Heh heh, both because I thought he'd like it and because I wanted to sneak some of those drum beats into our music.Sonic Youth can be difficult. But it's a rewarding kind of difficult. So many people I know just don't like them at all. It might be an acquired taste type of thing. But, for me, I just always loved them - almost unconditionally.