"sadie" or, the magic of music blogs
EDIT (11.05.06): links fixed, switched over to fileden.com. also, i finally got the milk-eyed mender in the mail and i just cannot stop listening to it. every time i listen, i find a new favorite song...currently it's a tie between "inflammatory writ" and "clam, crab, cockle, cowrie"
this is going to be a long one, but there are two highly worthwhile downloads contained herein. so relax, read, respond, and reproduce the path i've taken and you may find yourself with a new favorite song...
there's been an increasing amount of chatter lately in the music blog world about the legality of the whole enterprise. after all, many of us newer, less-connected bloggers are ignoring copyright laws by making songs available for download without permission. it's an issue that has been on my mind since i started this thing, as i do have a genuine respect for artistic license. but my intense desire to share the things that mean so much to me has caused me to brush aside the legal issues involved with doing this, armed only with a little disclaimer saying that all i'm doing is trying to promote the band. which is true. a few bloggers have taken the moral high road and decided to post only songs which are freely available or made available to them with permission from the appropriate sources (chad at ec,eu has an interesting post and discussion about it here). this is something that i would like to do too, and perhaps something that i may be forced to do in the near future. however, i just don't know how feasible it is for me now. i think the direction of my blog has tended towards the sharing of my own personal relationship with the music that i listen to, with my most favorite posts being the ones involving how particular songs or artists affected me in just the right way at just the right time at a particular moment of my life. that is something i cannot control, and i definitely can't control whether or not those songs happen to be legal to post here. but those are the experiences that mean the most to me, and mean the most to me to share. it's never been my desire to be the one of the cool kids, breaking unsigned bands or on the cutting edge of anything. i'm just a guy who loves music and sharing my own relationship with it.
jeff tweedy once said in an interview on the bob edwards show that it was difficut for him growing up, trying to navigate in a world that was so indifferent to his passion. that's often the way i feel, and when i stumbled across some of these blogs, i felt like i finally found some people who share this affliction with me. and being able to share these experiences with people who understand and know what it's like...that is what this is all about. so, for now i'm going to keep on the path that i've started on, with posts related to the ways in which music permeates my life and experiences. and i'll just keep my fingers crossed that it doesn't come down to me being forced to do this another way.
however, as an example of the way that these blogs and the current environment can work, i'd like to share the path that i recently took in getting to know joanna newsom.
- over on the rilokiley.net message boards i came across m. ward's cover of a song called "sadie", which i did not know at the time. as a huge m. ward fan, of course i downloaded that as quickly as i could.
- i was immediately curious who the original was by, so i did a google search to find out that it was joanna newsom, and a quick search on the hype machine turned up a very nice post and the original song from awesome until proven guilty. now, i must say that the first time i heard joanna's voice, on the first few lines of "sadie", i was shocked at how unconventional, grating, childlike, etc it was. especially when compared to the silky smoothness of m. ward's version. but i'm glad that i kept listening the whole way through, because i couldn't help but develop a certain appreciation for how raw and honest her voice is. and the lyrics she writes are incredibly substantive, dense, and emotional--i was already amazed.
- i wanted to find out more about this song, so i found an interview she did with tiny mix tapes where she spoke about it in depth:
TMT: One of my favorite and one of the most heart rending songs on your new record is "Sadie," is there a story behind it?
JN: There are actually three stories; as with almost all of my songs, there's this recurring triumvirate structure that imposes itself without my even realizing it at first. The three subjects are always connected, but often in merely intuitive or symbolic ways. In this particular song, the most straightforward subject is my then-dog, Sadie, who passed on recently. She was a lovely white Labrador who liked nothing more in the whole world than to play fetch. And I've always been impatient about that; I'd look at the soggy pinecone dropped at my feet while I was trying to get into my car, and I'd say, "I'll play with you later."
The second subject of the song is a friend, my age, who was diagnosed with cancer. I remember marveling at the reaction of people around me, the way they sprung to action, finally articulated to her their love and appreciation, finally made those lunch dates they'd always talked about...and I sheepishly include myself in this phenomenon. It wasn't disingenuous; it was just that our collective illusion, that we have forever to let someone know how loved she is, had been shattered.
The third subject is one of my most beloved friends, whom I've grown apart from. We had this sort of running argument, or a running series of disagreements founded on the same fundamental points of divergence, and if we had been close at that point, talking every day or whatnot, then those disagreements would have seemed like nothing. But because our correspondence had fallen behind, and we'd developed insecurities and bitterness, these disagreements became all-consuming; we fixated on them, let resentments build around them, let a silence build between us. And I remember just having my breath taken from me in one sickening moment when I paused one day to imagine what I'd do if this friend fell ill with cancer, like my other friend. I knew that I would fly to be with her, stay by her side forever if I had to, and revel in her extraordinary rarity, intelligence, kindness, forget all the shitty stupid petty small points of contention between us, because they were so insignificant in light of our own inevitable mortality.
So. Those are the basic subjects of the song. It's about all sorts of things, but I guess the main story is about death, love, putting things off...
- this is exactly the thing that i love about music, when someone can write a song about such personal moments and experiences, and yet it still is relatable to everyone else. i was so struck by how articulate and intimate her response was, i had to find even more. so i looked up an in-studio set she did with chris douridas on kcrw's new ground last year, as well as an in-studio set she did with irwin chusid on wfmu. it was fascinating to hear her talk about how she became comfortable with her voice, the path of her musical journey, and the methods of her songwriting.
- at this point i realized that joanna was playing a harp, so i searched youtube for videos of her and came across a live performance of "sadie". i cannot explain how amazing this video is, you just have to watch it for yourself. but the joy on her face--no, in her entire body--as she sings is beautiful.
- after all that, i decided i had to buy joanna's most recent album, 2004's the milk-eyed mender, from drag city records. and i will surely be feverishly awaiting her next release, Ys, on november 14th.
and all that i need
i tie in a knot
that i lay at your feet
i have not forgot
but a silence crept over me
(so dig up your bone
exhume your pinecone, my sadie)
so you see, that is how this is supposed to work. band fan sites --> the hype machine --> music blogs --> music websites --> public radio stations --> youtube --> buy the cd. see, it works. now i'm not so naive to think that everyone, or even a majority of people, do it this way. but i hope the record companies can realize that, for a lot of us, this blogging environment is a very good thing for record sales.
here are the songs:
m. ward : "sadie" (
joanna newsom : "sadie" (
from the lp the milk-eyed mender (drag city records, 2004)