The Be-Loud Glade, Pt. 1
This one’s about Ireland in the Troubled, brain-drain ’80s.
And the end of being young.
And unrequited love that does matter but doesn’t kill you.
And record stores as refuge. Again.
And those rare albums that don’t just affix to but seemingly sprout from— possibly even create— bedrock experience. In this case, I’m talking the Chameleons’ Strange Times (the link is to the album version of “Tears.” which I really did first hear in the rain on a hillside not so far from Innisfree).
And Yeats country. And being almost free, whatever that means or meant. Momentarily.
For cover art, this time, I not only wanted another image from my longtime friend and collaborator, Jonas Yip, but a specific image. Jonas so often works with figures at distance or through windows, caught in light and recognizable but also elusive. Somewhere between movement and stasis, moment and memory.
His Thirty-three + a Third series seems at first more abstract/theoretical, and yet its impact is immediate and sometimes overwhelming. Here’s how he describes the process: “I set out to conceptually merge this forgotten album art and the spin of the record player to create a sensory experience of motion and music. Each extended exposure transforms the original cover art, chosen from albums that were important to my own personal musical development, into an abstraction of color and motion.” There are samples from the whole series available for perusal on his website and sale through the Susan Spiritus Gallery. The picture below is what he did with a vinyl edition of Strange Times.
The cumulative effect is more than just of nostalgia, or even evocation. At least for me. Staring into these things is like falling into a whirlpool. There are memories in there, sure. Bits of tune. Strands of words (spoken by me, sung by others, sung with others, never fully learned…). Places we were. But only some of the experiences evoked are mine. Or yours. Or the original artist’s. To me, Thirty-three + a Third is about the way we experience and absorb the experiences we give each other.
Like this story, I hope.
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THE BE-LOUD GLADE (Pt. 1)
It was sleeting rain when I got on the six a.m. bus in Galway, and misting rain when I got off three hours later in Sligo. Kevin’s rant at the end of the Junior Associates Karaoke-Off last night still sizzled in my ears like a chainsaw left running (“You little shit, smartass shit, you think we’re friends? You think she cares, you think anyone cares what you think or will think, ever, you think you can just say shit like that and that’s okay, my friends can’t talk to me like that, and if my friends can’t, little no-zip fucks like you will never, ever...).
The words bit, cut, would have hurt more except he was waving them around so wildly—like a chainsaw in the air—with actual spittle that was probably beer foam flying from his lips, though knowing that didn’t make it look any less rabid. Especially not while he kept lunging at me, almost attacking, as though leashed.
In Sligo, I stood in the street outside the bus station. Except for that buzz in my ears there was almost no sound at all: just the wind off the lake, a single car the color of rain churning past with one windshield ticking and one flapping, then a church bell tolling the quarter-hour. Sligo Sunday morning. I thought the church, at least, might be open. Humping my backpack higher on my shoulders—Next Christmas, Kevin had joked when we were all still joking, ten minutes at most before he’d exploded, I’mma buy you an actual briefcase of your very own—I moved toward the echo.