hey. i’m staring at my computer screen, at the itunes page, at the “Top 25 Most Played” songs. on the page are three songs drawing my attention, and i’m going to tell you what they are.
each of the songs are written by people i know, and each of the songs take me to a place i evidently like to visit often. one is ‘silk carapace’ by golden string. it is a rare recording by this band, led by mai barnes. the song is full of uplifting melancholy. often i put it on repeat to turn off the wrong parts of my brain and turn on the right parts.
one night mai was at the bird and it was the eve of her beginning a teaching prac, or maybe even beginning her first job as a teacher. either way, as she mixed her awkwardness and surety together in front of us, describing with her hands and expressive face her feelings about charging into the whole teaching caper, our eyes got bigger. my friend next to me was imagining all the young boys falling in love with her – i know this because he told me after. i was imagining her loping into the class, her hair down, dark eye make-up on, lifting up her face to the room and coming alive in front of them and drawing them into a new fascination with anything she decided to bring before them.
when she left my friend and i looked at each other with the same thought: “she’s going to be a teacher. that’s a real job.” she will stand in front of a classroom and alter reality. and here is her voice, over drums and pianos, altering the place already.
the second song is ‘he’s a mighty good leader’, sung by nick allbrook in the loungeroom. when people sing to you in your house, your house goes into them and they go into it. the carpet draws up their legs and into their body, their voice hangs itself on the walls for perpetuity. that’s something that you can’t smoke out with white sage and you wouldn’t want to.
a few times in the last few weeks people have mocked me for my single bed, the pink sheets, a few soft animals lined up with their backs to the wall and their faces to the centre, but i hesitate to get a different bed because that’s where friends have sat, nick and joe, practicing songs when everyone else was in the backyard around the fireplace on one particular perfect night. they are soaked into every part of that room, bathed in warm light, bathing the room in songs that usually get mashed through walls of delay and tape echo and whatever else but this time are just made with hands, wood, metal, and only human energy, nothing from a socket.
‘he’s a mighty good leader’ has just one special voice, cracked and bright, and one guitar, and many ‘plays’ recorded. in the song is some of the mystery of the world, expressed simply for one moment by one man, the writer and another man, the one re-expressing the song in a lounge room.
the last song is ‘creatures’ by water graves. when i listen i don’t even have to close my eyes to get it to take me to the place it always takes me. it’s always out in the desert. the colours are pale, but the feelings are big. the song travels me into the centre of the continent and then out to the ocean, wind everywhere, wide space everywhere. the old land that knows everything because it’s been here the whole time.
the two who make it, blake and coel, have gentle spirits which you can tell from close range or far away. i don’t know any of the words they’re singing, i let the words wash over with the rest of the sounds, it’s an effortless inattention to the detail and an effortless taking in of an entire landscape. the song is bigger than the two of them. it stretches into my subconscious, unearthing only connection to this place, nothing petty, nothing lame.
three songs, one voice, the voice of light.