Some Tunes Catching My Attention

Last summer we attended the Firefly Festival for the second year in a row. I don’t remember much about those 3 days. I do recall on Saturday that I spent much of the afternoon glued prone to the Delaware savannah, unable to lift my head or limbs. Not sure why that happened, but it possibly was related to the consumption at breakfast of a couple of Doc Proctor’s mysterious brownies. And perhaps another cause was the application of a special medicinal butter to the brownies? Not sure. But for a while there I experienced a peculiar and fantastic state–completely incapable of movement or speech, but intensely aware of my surroundings. I approached territory Poe spent a career trying to document.

In this state I became aware of mysterious music, emotionless conjoined male voices singing in synch but not really in harmony, often in a plainsong or chant fashion. Sometimes the music resembled early Pink Floyd, there were little Yes flourishes, a hint Grateful Dead or Jefferson Airplane. Because I had memorized the festival schedule, I knew it was Django Django. Despite the fact I was unable to move, I nevertheless was able to groove to their set…but I never laid eyes upon them. I didn’t gather myself together physically until the Alabama Shakes took the stage.

I downloaded Django Django and have listened to the record several times–I dig it. But as I revisited it yesterday I realized I don’t know any lyrics or choruses at all–no words stick with me, except “Default,” which is their radio hit. It’s been decades since I really listened with care and attention to the lyrics of songs. I think now the majority of my music listening happens while I’m otherwise engaged with text, either at work, or while reading–so I can be quite familiar with a record musically without ever hearing a single lyric!

But some records of late have caught my attention not simply with their tunefulness. Among those would be Fear Fun by a dude referring to himself as Father John Misty, who used to be in Fleet Foxes, a band about which I know nothing.

But Fear Fun is an interesting challenge for a guy my age–it’s in a sense a sort of musical and literary archaeological expedition. The words are surreal, humorous, witty, deep, and evocative by turn. Father John Misty seems like a fella whose interests and pursuits have overlapped my own to a substantial degree. He and I should hang out sometime, with fingerpaints and fungi.

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