Thursday, July 9, 2009

why when you know you should go is it so hard to leave

Today's recommendation, the fourth of our quintet of out-of-date and probably un-hip album recommendations,

is

Christine Fellows'
Paper Anniversary


As you'll recall yesterday, I used to live in Germany. But eventually in 2006, I came back to the US to do a master's at what I will refer to as a large, private university in lower Manhattan. An incredible confluence of bad luck and shit circumstances convened such that around the time of September 30th, 2006, I was recovering from a quadruple wisdom tooth extraction not covered by my incredibly expensive student health insurance, I was moving, I was living off student loans, and my computer had crashed yet again, losing the majority of my music and writing. I needed the Mountain Goats show at the Bowery Ballroom. I dragged myself there after moving all day. I remember I was standing there in so much pain my knees kept buckling.

That is how I was introduced to Christine Fellows' music. I lack, and am not sure I want to develop, the real critical vocabulary to talk about her voice, which struck me as uniquely beautiful without being affected and pretentious (cough johanna newsom cough). It reminded me of all I had wanted to become during the years & years I had seriously studied voice. The lyrics of her songs were simple, yet evocative and vivid. Like The Mountain Goats, places I'd never been and people I wasn't sure were real suddenly felt real and familiar to me.

At one point during her set, her husband, Jon K. Samson (back to 2009: whom I recently saw play at Zoop! II) sang a glorious arrangement of a Cortazar poem with her. Shit. Cortazar?! Someday I will recommend Cortazar to you guys, too, but...not only was it Cortazar, one of my favorite writers, but it was one of my favorite Cortazar poems ever: "Instructions on how to dissect a ground owl."

I had been shaking before, and maybe I'll chalk it up to the painkillers, but I was crying. It was gorgeous. It was honestly one of the best live music performances I had ever seen.

A few weeks later, once I had my computer situation straightened out and I was done moving, I bought Paper Anniversary off iTunes. At the time, you have to understand that was a huge freaking purchase for me. During the long cerebral autumn of 2006, Fellows' modified jazz chords kept me company. Stories and sketches of places that were unfamiliar and yet terribly familiar filled my consciousness as I stood, alone among packed strangers, on the Q and the B and the 2 and the 3. The rain fell; life seemed sad and beautiful. Slightly askew, time.... marched on, with a minimalist piano accompaniment and the hint of a cat purr.

I feel the need to assure you that my intention in posting these recommendations was not a self-aggrandizing memoir, though that is what it is becoming.

1 comment:

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