Death by Sunlight


I have endured a hundred deaths by sunlight rolled into one.

And now come the feelings.

I want to write, primarily because when you come back from an event where you get to watch people you love, a succession of people you love, doing huge creative acts all over your face and eardrums, as a creative person, there’s a tsunami of energy within you (or at least within me) that responds.  That wants to respond in kind, which, can be rough when you just came from a concert where 20,000 people surged and swayed and screamed while waves of musical virtuosity filled an entire mountainside with joy.

You can go for that, but you might also be mentally prepared to fall a bit short.

I want to write, but I need to talk about this weekend.  I owe, I think, more than five hundred words today, anyway. For Friday and Saturday, if we’re being honest and if it costs me nothing, I’m fine with honesty.  So we’ll see how far the tale of this weekend gets us.

It was, overall, a success.  If only because it made me come to terms with certain facts about myself.  I am only as tall as I am – five foot and a single solitary inch.  Trying, with my passive nature to stay up front at a concert, will just leave me with a sunburn to beat all other sunburns.  I am wearing it now as a testament to my love of music and my own reckless stupidity, but I am deeply glad that we ended up moving at the end so that I could at least see what we’d traveled to see.  And that part was amazing.  Thrilling.

We did it, but man.  So, after my hotel room was not honored for reasons that have never been elucidated, we had to camp.  I have also learned and accepted that I can camp, I can physically lay down on the dirt and sleep in chilly air, and wake up full of snot and survive,  but that I don’t like it.  Thankfully, our neighbor camper had a mallet to help us whack in our tent stakes otherwise we would have been lost.  The car was parked about a half a mile away so we only took bare essentials, not the cushy mattress pads I’d bought the day before we left, but that also meant a lot of walks to the car to get things that ended up being essential.

Walking was a major theme, including flipping off the perfectly adjacent hotel we were not allowed to stay at as we went.  After walking a thousand miles to find a restaurant I have eaten at twice before, or more, in the fog of memory, only to find it closed as the owners were retiring (and apparently disinterested in updating their social media with such news), we went to a little coffee shop. They were amazed as a huge line of wristbanded customers came in after us, all for the show.  This coffee shop was well off the beaten path and I was pleased that the show seemed to be working as advertised, an attempt to bring folks into town to experience all of what made it charming and to do business.  At least in that particular coffee shop, they couldn’t get the white mochas out fast enough.

Eventually, though, the music gained primacy.
-Jack Garratt? Be still my heart.  He was our #1 takeaway artist.
-Tune-Yards were as awesome as I hoped from their videos and Merril Garbus’ voice just rolled through the mountains.  Loved it.
-James Vincent McMorrow, another new surprise, much more intense and lively than expected.
-Jenny Lewis made a playlist just for me, I think.  I cried for Jenny Lewis.
-The worst (and sometimes best) thing about concerts is, as always, the other people attending.  Tall people, you have a right to be up close and see what you want to see, but goddamn it, get there early and don’t slide up and block people literally eighteen inches shorter than you who can’t move to get a better view.
-Marcus Mumford is an actual beast (we knew this, but wow).  He was like a tiger, stalking the stage, like the energy was driving him out of his mind.  If you didn’t know he was lying on his back on a wave of people whilst he was singing, you’d have never guessed.  Didn’t drop a note.  Funny, magnetic, perfect with a voice like a vibrator.
-Winston doesn’t have to say anything (we also knew this, but it was fun to have it confirmed yet again), just take that banjo/guitarist/Captain Morgan stance with his hair in the breeze, add some smoke and lasers and I am gone to the world.
-Ben and Ted as genuine, kind, and unflappable as they just keep the madness going.

Yes.  Victory.  Red as a beet.  Burnt to a crisp.  Love those boys and love these Stopovers.

My brain and my heart in separate corridors both did some curious aching.  Staring at couples, watching a couple get engaged on stage, feeling the exile embedded in the countryside. Maybe it makes me want to scream and holler and yelp and keen and tear the stars out of the sky.

Mumford, of course, made any of the aforementioned trials and tribulations remarkably worthwhile.  They are tonic. They are perfect, they worry me a bit having cared about them for so long, but they have notched out a place in my heart and that is where they set.


Green, Growing Things


The Rockies will be on in a minute.  Gotta get it on the gamecast on as I can’t get it on TV.  I don’t care about their record.  I just want them to beat the Cubs.

Playing The Wolf again.  I spent ten minutes earlier this morning crafting a response to someone who felt this change in their sound came out of the blue.  I laid out all these facts that a fangirl knows.  I made a case.  Just before pressing the button to start a fresh thread unravelling on an internet argument I would never be able to win, I looked at the clock and gave it up and ran off for my appointment with the TurboTax.  As soon as you start to think you can correct someone on the internet’s opinion on anything, you’ve lost.  I haven’t allotted any more time in the budget of my life to redressing internet wrongs.

Listening again, now, I realize that I love just the hell out of this song.  I sit on my bed and feel it run through me, feel the memories it evokes, going to Bristol, jumping up and down as light and sound obliterated every last little worry in my head, going to Guthrie and the beetled hotel room and the red dirt on the little white Yaris maneuvering out of that bumpy field.  The sweaty, dark lit up by a strand of lights hung under over a tunnel and realizing how strong my little sister was.  Going to Italy and meeting my friend who only ever would have become my friend if it weren’t for those boys thinking they should start a band.  Driving with Sigh No More on repeat, and repeat, and repeat, never skipping a song.  Seeing them at the Fillmore, pressed against the wooden bar, seeing them at Red Rocks.  Always leavened, spiritualized, made into a giddy thing.  In some ways, they made the past four years of my life, if not possible…survivable.  They were a point of focus and escape and travel and even if they put out an album of themselves reading Kanye West lyrics, or performing polka classics, or whatever else would feel as profane as plugging in does to some, I’d buy it and give it a shot.  They’ve earned that from me.

I lip-sync along, unhinged: “You were all I ever lonnnnnnnnnnnged for!”  The core of what I want to hear is right there, undiminished by the electric melody bounding beneath it.

They’ll be on SNL tonight and I’ll be watching.

Apparently, my ex co-worker’s pizza party was cancelled due to “unforeseen circumstances.”  I turned up an hour into the supposed open house to see a near-empty parking lot and a posted message on the door.  I don’t know what this means.  Eventually, I will find out, but for now, I’m just relieved not to have to be back in that world.  It was an opportunity, though, to Saturday drive and I took a old, but more straight-forward route and didn’t think twice about doing it.  That was good.   The taxes are also done with the usual refund on its way and a bit more than usual from the state coming once I send off the paperwork on Monday.  Not enough to warrant giving up $25 for the convenience of not having to find a stamp.  Not when one’s father is a philatelist.

No you.  I keep the email account open.  The grail-shaped beacon.  I refuse to knock on that door, though.  I refuse to say peep.  The three men crewing the lighthouse for sanity’s sake, awaiting the crash, to see you bob up between the sheets of gasoline and scattered fuselage.  Pluck you up take you inland for a stiff drink while I make my way down from the hills.  These are things we have no say in.  These are things that are not ours to mend. The only choice to make is when to call it.  Like the last dwindling spikes on an EKG machine, beeping out: Not yet, not yet, not yet.

The Rockies are down 3 – 0, bottom of the second.  If they’re going to make it, these are the kind of situations where they have to fight.  I see the parallels.  I’m thinking.  I look again and they’ve cut the lead down to a single run.

There’s some tasks to take care of, trash to bring to the curb, beds to make.  Enough screaming into this Void.

Never Bet on the Facts

So, yesterday, I wrote, awkwardly, but I wrote.  Wishing I could be at it right now, rather than this piddling, plodding, self-aware drivel I generate on the regular.  You just can’t, or I just can’t, write at work anything that carries real emotion in it.  Anything that isn’t just a wild case of clever let loose to scatter and splatter across the page.  I have to work my way up to that high-dive and hang out there for a year, write a bit and then climb back down.  One of these days, just for kicks, just to amuse myself, I’m going to triple-check there’s water in the pool below and check once more and then jump.
It’s about an hour until fresh, lupine music from the Mumfords appears.
Writing group’s tonight and I have something for them.  Not the piece of clay I malformed into some sort decorative plop last night, but something they can read and comment on.  I’m keeping that thing alive, but I’m not using my blood to do it.  Not fresh blood, anyway.  It’s not that I want to go.  I don’t.  At all, yet again.  But I know it won’t be the end of the world.  I know I can do it and what’s better is I can do it without a boatload of despair.  Maybe?  I want to wash my hair, watch Game of Thrones, eat something bad for me and then, use this weekend to pivot into success.  Something.
I love the song.  I don’t need to be told to love it, or to   On come the barking dogs who lament the fact that they are not as they were.  The same miserable pack that nipped at their heels for being inauthentically folky say they miss the “folky soul” and of course, the banjos.  They’re devastated about the absence of banjos; it seems to have survived on the plinking of banjos and the betrayal of not hearing them now on this new album is a failure of the “franchise.  I love them, God knows I’ve adored the sound and it is part of the puzzle as to why this is my favorite band, but I think that if you lay their success solely at the claws and strings of that particular instrument, or even their acoustic quality, you miss a thousand other things they’ve done and built and crafted that have led to their success.
I just hate it when people are dismissive of them. They’ve carried me through some rough times and I’ve believed their modesty, sincerity, their work ethic at every turn.  Not that they’re perfect people or that I’d choose everything they’ve chosen, but that they found joy in music and wanted to share that with the world always felt admirable, kind.  And when I could be swept up in that bracing, marching, keening, yearning sound, there was a communion of spirits that left me buzzed.  You want to go to each individual commenter’s house and say how could blow off all these years of work, the very feeling that is this song and call it corporate, disappointing, not “them?”  They want a response to their negative responses as if there’s some sort of international call for them to unplug their amps and pick back up those instruments and the image  they’ve gone out of their way to kindly, joyfully parody.  A style that would have gone over like a lead balloon if they’d carried that hallowed instrumentation forward for one more album.  That’s just the sense I get.  And here they are with new music and you say they’re selling out?  When they had absolutely no requirement whatsoever to keep making music together unless they wanted to. How can you, or any of us claim, to know them?  And if we must, can’t the argument be made that the roots of this music have been present all along?  Creativity, as Kermit and Ken say, is to transcend and include.  I think they’re doing a lovely job of that and I can’t wait for Wilder Mind.
Okay.  There’s some feelings.

A Wilderness


I remember a Rilo Kiley song that my friend sent me a thousand years ago (I’m old enough to throw such phrases around).  I always loved Portions for Foxes (I know there’s a post titled that somewhere along the line).  And now, I should be getting to see Jenny Lewis in Salida with my best beloved Mumford and Sons for a Colorado Stopover! It’s pretty exciting and I’m very grateful for the early heads up that gave me one of the very few hotel rooms in town.  Little sister’s going again.  I am ready for some pie at the little restaurant outside of town that is delicious and precious and ready for just the whole thing all over again.  So that’s the big news.  Aside from the fact that they also have a new album coming out in May and a new single here shortly. I’m very giddy, still have to get the actual tickets, though.

It’s not all sunshine and buttercups right now.

Apparently, my grandfather fell and had to be taken to the ER.  We learn these things through email chains and Facebook messages.  But he’s also okay and going to go back from the hospital tomorrow.  So.  Yeah, there’s another little worry to flicker around in my head.  I just have to go with the fact that he’s okay now.

I got up and got on the bike again, but I think it’s making me ravenous and I have to take the time to work out what I’m going to eat at work tomorrow, because I have a bar left and even after eating a giant box of chicken wings, I feel completely starving. I’m not giving up, because I think about him and reasons and that I will get to have some sort of fancy dinner out this month.  It might be this weekend, I don’t know.  I need to get more food in me and right now I’m at that stage where I’ve got so much else going on that it becomes lunch time or dinner time and there’s nothing prepared and I just go for whatever standby isn’t a diet-killer.  Sigh.  Not good.

Yeah, there hasn’t been a letter yet and while I didn’t have a feeling like there wouldn’t be one, I kinda wonder now if there won’t be.  It does feel sort of illogical given, you know, how full-on interested we’ve seemed to be, but I know how this goes, I’ve done this, just dropping off the face of the earth because the room had started to feel warm or cramped or too yellow and it could just be karma kicking my ass.  By giving me someone who can write the sort of letter you haphazardly answer without measuring your tone out in teaspoons because you feel the feeling of needing something other than this sangfroid, this reserve, and now, I wonder if that very delirious transmission triggered something I was unaware of, and he’s decided to fuck off.  Or, y’know, if this is just life in the big city, kid.  I mean, if I think about it carefully and minimally, I may come away completely unscathed and with no adjustment to my worldview and ego whatsoever.

Mostly, I think he has a life whereas I have a gummy worm in the shape of a life and he’s out doing things and will get back to me in the order I was received.

Home Is Wherever I’m With You


The rusty wheel begins to turn.

I don’t know how to begin, except to begin.  There’s so much to say, so many little tendrils to follow, facets to the diamond.   I could tell you about the heat.   The unforsaking, devastating, potentially weekend-ruining heat that made it impossible for us to maintain our spot waiting out in the 100 degree weather on blankets with no shade to speak of.   Made it hard to breathe and made my heart shiver.  I could tell you about Guthrie, the little town that did good to accommodate all these people, the red Oklahoma dirt in the field that got on everything, the small coffee shop with this lovely window recreation of the Sigh No More album cover.  The string of lights hung under the overpass.  I could tell you about my little sister who was actually a lot calmer than I thought she’d be about most things…who got her brain boiled trying to keep a spot for me so that I could stare intently at Winston Marshall’s banjyrations…and who was way more freaked out than necessary about a couple dead bugs in our less than savory motel on the outskirts of town and didn’t sleep or shower because she couldn’t bear the thought of using anything in the place.

But I suppose the best thing to do is to tell you about the music:

Willy Mason – Lovely voice, loved the violist, will be checking him out.  Reminded me a bit of Nathaniel Rateliff.

Justin Townes Earle – Well, I loved him at Bristol, and I loved him here.  Love his attitude.  He doesn’t seem to really involve himself in things,  Just as the day was starting to cool down, his set was good…wish people had been a bit more attentive.

Phosphorescent – Lots of beautiful moments, though it didn’t quite gel for me.  Maybe it was the crowd anticipation for ESMZ.  Interesting frontman, too.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Loved them, though their camera filter was this constantly shifting kaleidoscope effect that was a bit dizzying especially in that heat.  They definitely bring their own vibe, and Alex can sing…but Jade’s my favorite even if storytime gave voice to a crazy stalker-type who wanted to marry her.  I think her voice just leavens the whole thing.

Bear’s Den – LOVED, loved so much.  Reminded me a bit of Matthew and the Atlas. I’ll definitely be seeking out their music.   It was a nice start of the day.  That core indie/acoustic sound, but with some lovely lyrics such as I associate with Mumford.

Little Darlin’s – Middle of the day, unique, fun voice that probably would have worked better in another setting.  Sitting as far away as possible to find one single spot of shade, the singer’s raspy twang didn’t quite translate.

Half Moon Run – Fun! Bubbly! Bouncy! Fun!  I’ll be looking for their music for sure.

The Vaccines – Yeah, I still have their lyrics bubbling around around in my head.  They’re the boys’ boys, y’know.  And they put on a fun show.  I was all kinds of distracted with getting my sister some food and drink so she didn’t pass out during their set, but I danced my way there and back.

Haim – I love them! They played Let Me Go which has the drum part I think is marvelous and I really hated the heat at this moment, because I wanted to be up there and dancing to them, but it was just not happening.  But I did get to see them at the airport, walking around like real people, when no one else seemed to notice them and I’m kicking myself for not asking for their autograph, but if it weren’t for a plane delay I’d never have seen them anyway.   It was just sort of special, an odd happenstance.

Alabama Shakes – The woman can sing.  There’s just no arguing about that.  I love Hold On, don’t know any of their other music, liked what I heard, but it doesn’t grab me as the most memorable of the day.

Mumford – Well, my view of the big screen was perfect for everything up until their amazing cover of Come Together and enough of the crowd either decided to beat the rush out or was just stupid and forgot about encores and left that at my sister’s insistence, we could creep up a good ways and actually see, you know, the gentlemen we’d come to see.  And they sung Sister and the Cave and then, of course, I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends.

I’m forgetting more and I’ll backtrack tomorrow.  But yeah.  Yeah.  Home.  Feelings.  So much to say.


On The Bad Side of the Tracks

This will be helpful.  Now, I think we can maybe kind of sorta get back on track.

I am actually going to post this today now that we have internet, of a sort.

I was planning to write this in between commercials of the Grammys, but I kinda…just need to not.

Gotta focus so I don’t consider giving you something I haven’t written today which is less than either of us deserve.  And I’m working on having integrity every now and again and this is one place where that had a little taproot growing.   So obviously, Mumford and his Illustrious Sons won album of the year.  I got excited texts and tweets as my passion for them is known throughout the tri-county area (AT LEAST) and I slipped into that other dimension where I just fangirled until I went about half-blind.  I am working on turning off that excitement so that I can be here and get myself settled for bed.

I have been off all day.  You know that sort of constriction in your muscles when you’re very excited or you’re needing to stretch?  I’ve felt that all day and done naught about it and I know I’m going to be fucking around in bed because I have to get books ready at work tomorrow and there’s always Monday morning intensity and fuckery that I don’t want to face.  Like everyone, I’d rather be in this dream world of Grammys and me suddenly picking up the mantle of this novel and writing it and finishing it with all the acclaim and passion directed toward me that I feel now directed out of me.

So I think I will have to resort to shooting bullets your way and then I will rush with this energy to pick out some clothes, wash my face and get ready for bed so that I can maybe write a little bit on the fiction that will make no sense in this context but is boiling about in my head.

– My fitbit lives.  It took a charge and it feels a little off, like it wasn’t properly registering, but now I think it is alright and hopefully, I will never ever put it in the washing machine much less the dryer again.

-I have been eating right but wrong.  I have ideas about things to talk to the therapist about.  I didn’t drive today at all and could have.  I just feel very much like I’m pulling back instead of pushing forward because I’m starting to feel rather overwhelmed with responsibility and need and the burdens of being adult and alive in this modern era.  I’m not eating bread or anything, but I know when I’m pushing the limits of propriety and this is it.  Bad thing is that I don’t have that pull in my stomach that says put your goddamned foot down.

-I’m hoping/planning/going to set a goal and a date for the concert.  Because that does help.  I feel myself a little bit thinner and I feel weirdly ambivalent.  It means moving on, changing, and I’d like to think I can have that cake and eat it, too.


Sunflower Fields

Okay, so I now that I’m home and Chipotle-fied, I will attempt to give some summary of the events of this past weekend, or at least what I think will be of interest to you dear readers of this blog:

  • The absolutely marvelous, charming and good friend’s car did break down while trying to take my grateful self from Nashville to Bristol and her equally great brother and sister-in-law were so kind as to get us all to the show.  I’m not fussed to sit quietly in a car for long stretches, so it was nothing to me. I’m just sorry she had to be distracted by that all weekend.
  • I also got to meet the other wonderful people who let me stay in their hotel room out of the kindness of their very kind hearts.  It basically made this trip possible and I am so appreciative! I also met another friend who was a fantastic guide and hilarious.  Names retracted because I think I should.
  • Bristol.  I work in a small downtown that has benefited from revitalization efforts and what Mumford and Sons have given them…it’s priceless.  The exposure, the focus on local business, the embodiment of “loving one’s ground” and saying this place is awesome to 15,000 people who may have bypassed the town before but will consider hanging out there in the future.  The sales tax revenue generated for those business owners…I mean, it’s no small thing. I’m very proud of them for propagating their ethos in such a real way.
  • The Stopover.  Mainly, hot damn.  Hot and damn! My OTHER friend came up and hung out with me and we went for it and did our best to hold our territory about 10 rows from the front before we slowly were invaded.  So we saw Apache Relay (who hit this sweet spot right away where I just marveled at their groove, and I can’t wait to listen to some more of their songs where I can catch more of the lyrics), Justin Townes Earle who I was fascinated by, when he started crooning this blues song and his voice just creaked and crawled into the stratosphere, I thought he was great! (Please forgive my errant and terrible punctuation failures here.) Dawes – aside from the obvious highlight of Marcus coming out and singing When My Time Comes with them, they were just great.  I loved the song that had the line “I need you to make the days move easy…” and I know I’ll be better acquainted with their music before Red Rocks.
  • Mumford & Sons.  This was the second time I’ve seen them, little over a year in between, and as much as the sun had been beating down on us all day, roasting us alive, every now and then there was this cool breeze and the whole crowd would collectively sigh in relief.  Mumford & Sons was like a 90 minute sigh in the breeze.  My feet were numb, I couldn’t move, couldn’t always see (joys of being 5’1”), I kinda had to pee (ahem – there was no getting out if you had any interest in ever getting back in) but none of that mattered at all.  Everything kind of melted away in the giddy, boundless thrum of their energy.  I just sang and stared and clapped and did my best to jump around in my one square foot patch of concrete. What I love about them – among many, many things – is how they don’t look past the show they’re at.  They were just 100% present in their performance, and they wanted to just put every drop of energy and passion and love they had into it.  You’d have to be some kind of robot not to get high off of the experience.
  • I was so happy that my friend enjoyed it, too.
  • Finger-staches.
  • And other things.  Lots of other things.