We hold many worlds inside our hands. When those worlds end up connecting, what strange and wondrous feeling can move through us, even more so when those worlds connect themselves separate from anything we have done to do such. Such a good feeling when this large world is made smaller.
I do not know when I first visited Said The Gramophone, but they have been one of the regular constants in the world of the interweb. The site’s format is to post a song along with usually a paragraph or few of writing (or in the case of when Michael Jackson died several beautiful pages). The writing may be tiny reviews of the songs, or they may be slices of memories connected to the music or stories inspired by the tracks or tales intended to be read with the songs as soundtrack accompaniment. Over the last 7+ years they have introduced me to so many incredible songs and artists, and provided daily/weekly nuggets of literary beauty and inspiration.
What’s wonderful is that the musical selections are not driven by musical connotation but by only the music itself, and what that music inspires inside the writers. Whatever shape the writing takes, the songs are always varied, running the gamut from Dirty Projectors to R. Kelly to Empire X to Rokia Traore to Taylor Swift to Tune-Yards to Cadence Weapon to Nico to Morricone to etc. And whatever the songs may be, the writing is just as varied but always unique and poetic, giving their visitors a different kind of experience than the usual website of musical journalism.
A number of months back, Bahhaj Taherzadeh better known under his musical moniker We/Or/Me asked if I was interested in recording a poem over a piece of music he had, for his upcoming album. I had met Bahhaj the year prior when he came down to Austin Texas to visit a close friend of both of ours and we decided to do a local show. I was super excited to do something collaborative with him, so I listened to the beautiful piece of music he had sent and recorded a few pieces I felt inspired to share and sent them his way to see what he thought.
The piece he chose was a poem called “From The Top of This Thing” from my book The Feather Room. Every spring my friends and I spend a long weekend at the Oregon coast. Our first few beach trips were spent at this one part of the coast that had a huge hill of sand we would climb. Next to the sand mountain were tide pools and a giant crest of rock that rose and dipped, parts of which we would all climb upon as well. The first time my now-wife/then-girlfriend joined us up there, I was inspired to write this little story of climbing upon these rocky surfaces and what the love we had found meant for our future together.
The album that showcases the aforementioned poem, The Walking Hour, came out May 28th. It’s available here on bandcamp, also features folk legend Vashti Bunyan, and was mixed and mastered by Brian Deck, producer of one my favorite albums of all fucking time, Modest Mouse’s The Moon & Antarctica. That same day Sean Michaels of Said The Gramophone mentioned it on twitter saying it featured “lovely work” by me. I was honestly floored that a website I have loved and enjoyed for years would mention me. And then today they posted the track in question and wrote more on it. A large smile spread across my face and chest when I learned this. It is a good good feeling when this vast world is made smaller, and even more joyous to have people who’s work one respects reveal a respect they have for yours.
One of the funny things is, is that when our mutual friend Misha said that Bahhaj was first coming to ATX she asked if I was familiar with his music. I didn’t think that I was but something seemed familiar and yes, there in my iTunes were a few of his songs. Songs which I had been introduced to by Said The Gramophone.