I am of blood & of bones & of heart & of head

  1. Vacation – Florist
  2. Is This Called Home – Lucy Rose
  3. Slacks – Valley
  4. The Moon Song – Karen O & Ezra Koenig
  5. Train Tracks – The Staves
  6. Something – Julien Baker
  7. Werewolf – Fiona Apple
  8. Carrie & Lowell – Sufjan Stevens
  9. Cool & Refreshing – Florist
  10. The Fall of Home – Los Campesinos!
  11. Eagle Song – The Staves

The magic of folk music is derived primarily from the center stage that lyric takes in the performance of a song, a quality so rare in this day that it harkens back to a time past, back to the days of confessional poetry & its giants: Sylvia Plath & John Berryman & Anne Sexton.

If one were to analyse it, one would find that good folk lyrics perfectly balance the extremes of self-obsession & low self-esteem, landing on that stark line of idiosyncratic story-telling. To put it simply, good folk lyrics are honest & by that effect, allows others to express themselves in the same way. Music doesn’t always have to be about making a political statement. Instead, let’s talk – talk about childhood, faith, love, depression & death.

I don’t know how to be
What I wanted to be when I was 5
Sometimes blue eyes sometimes green

Bike rides
Snow hikes & Christmas lights
Sometimes freezing sometimes warm
I don’t know if I can love that anymore

Cause I got it all
I’ve got it all mistaken
for a meaningful life & a fun family vacation
like when I used to ride roller coasters with my dad
when a swimming pool in a hotel was a gift from God

like love or like a family
I don’t know how to be …

(Vacation – Florist)

You don’t know how to be, but neither do I. I’m figuring it out, so take your time.

Here’s one more.

Call me in the morning I’ll be alright
Call me in the morning I’ll be alright
Call me little honey & I’ll be fine

Call me in the morning I’ll be okay
Call me in the morning I’m far away
Call me little darling & I’ll be fine

It Hurts!

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(currently listening)

  1. Way It Goes – Hippo Campus
  2. Super America – Bad Bad Hats
  3. Love That’s Gone – La Sera
  4. Brooklyn – Fickle Friends
  5. Jennifer – Little Comets
  6. Away from Today – Dan Croll
  7. Talk Too Much – COIN
  8. Drive It Like You Stole It – Sing Street
  9. Wait Up – Roosevelt
  10. Not A One – The Young Wild
  11. Until We Get There – Lucius
  12. Musicians – Gold Motel

Lo-Fi

(adj.) Short for lo-fidelity. The production or reproduction of audio characterised by an unpolished or rough sound quality. First known usage: 1957.


Once, I hitched a ride with an older couple from Malaysia to Singapore after a weekend church retreat & we got stuck at the causeway for a couple of hours. That was when the husband said that we should all take turns to play some songs off our own devices because all the radio waves were still staticky & it would be interesting to know each other’s music tastes & so I plugged in my phone & played them a few tracks off Gold Motel’s Brand New Kind of Blue record. I thought they would like the songs because they were bright & nostalgic & summer-y but then when I asked what they thought, the husband turned around & said, they’re alright I guess, but they’re a bit juvenile, don’t you think?

Oof. Well, I suppose they are:

“Forget it all, it’s just a sun-drenched dream
I bet you make a good memory
I’ll come back soon, when you least assume
Oh, Santa Cruz”

(Santa Cruz – Gold Motel)

“Pluck a heart-string, duck for cover
Hear the phone ring, start to stutter
He wants to know why I sit & sigh so
I yelled your name like a secret out the window
Oh, the night is so young
It hurts!” 

(It Hurts – Bad Bad Hats)

The thing is, I would like to write a lo-fi, “juvenile” love song but I just don’t know how. I think it’s one of the hardest things to write. I did a gig last Saturday with some friends & while it was fun to play Quiet Man & Santorini & Waves, the artists before & after us all had their fair share of juvenile love songs about high school crushes / cheesy declarations of love / bad break ups & I just realised that I didn’t have anything like that in my song repertoire. Just songs about cities or fictional creatures. Hmmm.

I suppose that artists like Gold Motel & Bad Bad Hats appeal to me because the songs they write always seem raw & tender & almost Bukowskian in all their juvenility. No frills or poetic anguish to hide behind. Sometimes that summer road trip really feels extraordinary & transcendent, or that break up just plain sucks. Sometimes, the best way to describe what you’re feeling is to write a two-minute, two-chord song, & shout: It Hurts!