Music Monday | Outside the Lines – Birdtalker

After running a Spotify account for about two years, I’m finally starting to use it in a way that doesn’t involve just searching for my favourite songs and listening to them. Lately, I’ve been paying attention to the recommendations and last week stumbled onto this gem.

Birdtalker’s debut album One was released last year after an EP in 2016, and a new single came out just over a week ago.

When I met G, I sent him a list of my flaws; number nine of fifteen said “I listen to too much indie folk music.” Birdtalker’s debut One may not fit as neatly into the indie folk music genre as their EP Just This but it is still largely reminiscent of that soft, folksy Americana that draws me in.

But what Birdtalker has, in addition to sweet sweet sounds, is something magical in their lyrics. There is an existential heartache in their songs; the search for meaning and purpose by a couple who’ve deconstructed from Protestant religion. Perhaps it’s their rejection of exclusionary dogma, a mirror of my own trajectory, and the unpacking of the baggage of religious narratives that I resonate with. Perhaps it’s the way they challenge traditional hierarchies while they examine their role in maintaining such systems. Perhaps it’s that their songs sit in a liminal space I’m far too familiar with. Whatever it is, I love it.

In an article with Billboard prior to the release of the song I’m posting tonight, songwriter Dani Green said: “I was pretty angry when I wrote it, but I don’t think you would know that from listening to the song.”

Dani, who co-fronts Birdtalker with her husband Zack Green, tells Billboard about the gentle, harmony-laden folk song. Organized religion was Green’s intended target, but “Outside The Lines” carefully encompasses hypocrisy on a broader scale.

“I was tired of feeling like people in that arena could — because they say they’re believing in good things — treat people really poorly,” Green explains. “That just stirred up a lot of anger in me. The language of the song, the words, are very flowery and elevated to poke fun at the elevated, flowery language of religion, the ancient texts. It feels like it’s deceptive. That language, because it’s so nice and flowery, is like a shield you could put up in front of you, but then you go and treat people in ways that’s not at all reflective of the things you said.”

“Outside The Lines” is, however, representative of Green’s lyrical approach on the album’s 11 tracks. “It’s sort of a snapshot of a period of deconstruction and having a lot of open-ended questions,” she says. “It feels pretty open-handed and like it asks a lot of question and sort of targets mainstays or institutions, things that are kind of an unquestioned part of your life — until you decided to start questioning them. So it feels like a lot of questions, with a little bit of resolve.”

Musicless

Many Mondays have passed without music. As have all the Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. There is little solace and much grief. I’m trapped inside a free-falling elevator plummeting to the bottom of the shaft and I don’t know when it is going to stop.

The heat of the day has been swept away by the storm. Light rain is spattering on the roof. And I am going to bed, again, to not sleep.

 

 

Music Monday | I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead – Jon Bon Jovi

Until I’m six feet under
Baby I don’t need a bed
Gonna live while I’m alive
I’ll sleep when I’m dead
‘Til they roll me over
And lay my bones to rest
Gonna live while I’m alive
I’ll sleep when I’m dead

I used to be proud of how little I slept.

“Only three hours?” others would stare and squint at me suspiciously. But it was amazing — I had so many more hours in the day than “normal people”.

Developing healthy sleep habits was a large part of my treatment; building a routine, sleeping even when I didn’t want to, shifting my thoughts about what needing sleep meant (turns out, it doesn’t make you weak). Now I’m regularly able to sleep for five to six hours — which may not seem like much but is double what I was getting several years ago.

Recently, I’ve moved to permanent shift work involving a pattern of night shifts and I’m in the process of converting my sleep rhythms so that I sleep during the day. I’ve always slept better during the day than at night…except when I am woken up.

Music Monday | Waves – Dean Lewis

When I left Queensland a few years ago, I sold the piano I’d had since I was 10.

There is a swelling storm
And I’m caught up in the middle of it all
And it takes control
Of the person that I thought I was

Music had been one of the keys to my recovery — my piano, instrumental to the re-connection with my heart.

Memories, of a stolen place
Caught in the silence
An echo lost in space

A couple of years ago, my partner bought me a piano for my birthday.

Moments of magic and wonder
It seems so hard to find

It is the best present I’ve ever been given and is much more than 88 keys in a wooden box. Right now, I’m learning to play this.

Music Monday | Don’t Dream It’s Over – Middle Kids (Cover/Crowded House)

Three and a half years ago, the door to my heart clicked open.

There is freedom within, there is freedom without
Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
There’s a battle ahead, many battles are lost
But you’ll never see the end of the road
While you’re traveling with me

When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
We know they won’t win

I didn’t know love could be this free and this secure at the same time.

Music Monday | The Deepest Sighs, The Frankest Shadows – Gang of Youths

Discussing the track, Gang of Youths frontman Dave Le’aupepe says:

“This song came about after I struggled with writer’s block for a year, barely managing to etch out more than a single verse of something awful the whole time. I was walking home across the Brooklyn Bridge one night, questioning my place in the world, contemplating giving up music and doing something more substantial. I sort of felt that I wasn’t doing anything that actually mattered. But I looked out at the skyline, all silvery and strange and in typical self-indulged frontman fashion, I began to revel in this moment of abandon, of self-hate. As a result, I think I stumbled across a kind life-affirming axiom; that in a cosmos potentially absent of meaning, and an existence devoid of objective value, I have an opportunity to invent my own meaning. We all do. We can ascribe meaning and value to our own lives and in a way, attribute great esteem and value to each other as a result.

All of us as adults, from youth to old age are drunk, stumbling around in the dark looking for a kebab. I’m scared and unsure, and I want to acknowledge this rather than repress it, or allow cynics to denigrate me because of it. So the song is about becoming more human, more aware and I guess in a way, more alive.”

It’s been just over twelve months since I posted last.

I haven’t been struggling with writer’s block but a change of jobs and new work commitments have eclipsed the time freed up by not travelling for two weeks out of every month. Those spare hours have been filled with study for my new role. As of the end of this week, however, my training period is complete. I’ve passed all the exams and start on shift next Monday. This will give me ample time to ponder over the meaning — or lack thereof — of life.

“Cause not everything means something, honey
So say the unsayable, say the most human of things
And if everything is temporary
I will bear the unbearable, terrible triteness of being.”

 

 

Bonus: the video has power lines 🙂