One of most annoying things about me is that I do everything with a fairly unhealthy, obnoxious intensity. For me, liking an artist means carrying around a band-shaped monkey on my shoulder for some length of time, consuming everything about them that I can find. As far as I can tell, this is not the average listening experience. It’s the nerdy one.
My latest obsessive tendency (creepily hunting down every song that Justin Vernon has ever sung) is playing out the way most historians behave about the Kennedy assassination, or the Cold War. That cabin in the woods is my Grassy Knoll, and I feel I ought to know everything that led up to what happened there to truly understand.
Nerd log- Latest find: The 2 albums that Vernon released before Bon Iver was formed. Hazelton (2006) and Self Record (2005).
For an idea of them, here are two wonderful songs.
The first is Hazelton’s eponymous single. The guitar template sounds like the prototype for what was rolled out on 2011’s Holocene, but the vocal styles plant it firmly in the space between For Emma and Bon Iver; those two personalities.
settle up you’re calling up the pain
sitting dead the sinker and the string
you came, you saw, you sawed her brain
cut out all the parts that held your stain
The second, Sides, is from the enigmatic Self Record album. It’s got strands of Cat Stevens, Graham Nash and Van Morrison, and sounds like what would have happened if the Counting Crows drank more whiskey and were left to the sad devices of a small town. It’s this dark, poetic, loosely spiritual space that Joshua Grierson is occupying in the South African scene at the moment.
But I was still confused
About the pain that had invaded me
And I’m still wondering
If my soul’s worth it’s money back
Definitely on the red alert list now.