I love analogies, I think in analogies, and there’s one in particular I’ve found to be extraordinarily useful. It has (and hasn’t, if you know what I mean) to do with sand, and the notion that the tighter you try to grip a handful of the stuff, the more the grains run through your fingers. Not the most sophisticated metaphor in the world, but it illustrates quite nicely how, in certain situations, the best results come when we set aside our instinctive need to control the external world through force.
[Waiting to continue until the urge to make an Iraq War comment passes… almost there… OK, let’s move on.]
I’ve bumped into a pair of music-related reminders of the sand-containment axiom lately, and they’ve led me to the conclusion that side projects are wonderful exemplars.
While Mrs. YHT was making a delicious Mexican corn chowder thing the other night, a song that was released in 2012 came on our under-cabinet CD player — yes, we still have (and use) an under-cabinet CD player — and a wave of regret began to wash over me. No… that metaphor isn’t strong enough. Hearing this particular song was more like regret giving me a spirited kick to the nuts. (You’ll find out which tune it was in a minute.)
In some ways I’m glad it happened, because there are a few artists and albums I’d take a mulligan to include, either because I screwed up or because of my short-sighted — albeit merciful, for sleep-getting reasons — decision to limit myself to 5 of each superlative category.
If you’ll indulge me, I promise not to ever talk about 2012 again.
OK, I can’t promise that, but indulge me anyways?
Not enough of you fine people are bananas for Doug Paisley. Wanna know how I know? On April 17, I got an email from his record company announcing that Paisley’s new 5-song EP, Golden Embers, was being released. Being a man of action, as well as a huge fan of Paisley’s previous effort, Constant Companion, I did the only reasonable thing — panic and call every record store in town to see if they had a vinyl copy of the new EP. Not a single one did. One even told me the store’s system indicated that the record wasn’t available to be ordered by independent record stores. WTF does that mean? Fortunately, I could buy the release directly from the record company’s website, but having done this makes me feel a little Mugatu-ish, in retrospect.
Some people were blessed with the gift of foresight — “planners” I hear they’re called. I am not one of those people, which is why it’s a minor miracle that I got to see Megafaun this past Thursday. Early last week, my wife and I were a few days away from hopping on a 737 bound for Portland, OR (By “bound for Portland,” I mean bound for Houston, then Portland. I’m pretty sure Lewis and Clark took the same route.), when I did something so out of character, I’m surprised my wife didn’t accuse me of being involved in a Face/Off-style government plot — I checked to see what concerts would be happening while we were in town. It seems so simple, yet I can assure you, this was an evolutionary leap on par with the use of perspective in Renaissance painting and the special effects from Jurassic Park. The theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey should have been playing in the background as I looked online at venues’ websites and saw that Megafaun would be rocking the Doug Fir Lounge the evening after we flew in to PDX. This was very exciting news. I started learning about the North Carolina-based roots rock band over the past few months from Bon Iver’s glowing tweets about them, and I finally heard their music when it was featured on a recent episode of NPR’s All Songs Considered. I’ve had their self-titled album in heavy rotation ever since, but Thursday night’s performance was even better than I could have hoped. Amidst the backdrop of a super cool basement lounge that felt like a cross between a ski lodge and a woodsy version of Dr. Evil’s hollowed-out volcano lair, Megafaun put on a performance that made me and my wife fans for life. I’m a sucker for well-executed harmonies, and I was in the right place, as all four members of the band contributed to one sweet sounding vocal arrangement after another, culminating in their a cappella performance above of “Second Friend.” I may not have been blessed with the planner gene, but I felt truly blessed to have been at Doug Fir on Thursday night, and I’m definitely going to make a habit of checking for concerts before I head on vacation. Check out “Second Friend” above, hear the album version below, and buy their amazing self-titled album here.
Megafaun — “Second Friend“