Brief & Boundless (since cassette demos 1997)
Around the Poison
I’m writing this now from the belly of Spring, airing out with a cat posing as a sphinx next to an opened window. Outside, a propeller plane brrrrs above somewhere between a whir & a gravelly roar heaving in air pockets as if clearing its throat. Beyond that, one of the daily freight trains slows through town west-&-east or south-&-north — its rail friction sounds a fine-line whining in the distance or distant past. The cat gets up for a snack. Everyone’s going somewhere. After the brrrr & whir pass out, a far-off chainsaw buzz rises like a humming river valley fog. A noontime city siren whooos, then runs out of breath — there’s either a civic emergency or it’s simply lunchtime. Something goading is in the air. There is never not a din, inside or out. I can even hear the cat chewing its crunchers in the kitchen right now as if I’m the animal doing it. I don’t dare check my pulse. The aether is stunningly alive. It’s probably just a case of laser-sharp recreational acclimation.
I’ve changed my mind, now, actually — No one’s going anywhere . . . ( . . . yet, here we all are. I mean, what’re the chances? ) Let’s, we-better, just springboard this musically purposeful meet with a technical ramble:
I play the working title of Brief & Boundless (Around the Poison) in standard tuning/capo-3 even though it means dealing with a full six-string-barred minor F# chord formation. I hate that one — it involves a slight wrist twist — I don’t like that. I just wanna loosely jump around the fretboard with as many two-or-three-finger crunches as I can dissonantly muster. I’m lazy & rest easy calling it a style. Also, I have absolutely no problem with the F# major — I just want to be clear on that. I don’t use it a lot, but it’s given me somewhere harmonious to go on a few desperate occasions. I like a good four-finger grab on the low strings & leave the high two open to ring as they please — a nice transitory, marginal contradiction — there, when called upon. I can hear, in the below recording, that F#m at the lyrics “move the bed . . . “ & “pined inside . . . “ I hear the feel of it, I should say — my inner pushback. It’s okay, though — that later-stolen 50’s nylon string Martin I played these songs on was so pliant & distinct. I’ve lost some good ones over the years . . . I only lose the best! Nothing against my current ’64 Harmony nylon string, mind you. & not to overanalyze, but it has perfect high-tension-B-string intonation — even when slurring against a depressed G-string with an ambiguously-open three-finger B-chord cheat I default-to usually.
I do the same thing with a Bm — in this case, four fingers chord in the middle. The Ring & FY fingers roost in a broken D-chord position with an open high-E, then the Pinky goes for a fourth string minor stretch & the Pointer takes up the flank on the fifth one — it’s all kind of spidery sport. I exploited it first with a song called Gauzy Dress in the Sun from my debut album Bloomed where I walked it down to an E-something-or-other chord with the FY going to the fifth string & the Pointer landing on that third’s G#, spreading into a major four-fretter in the manner of that same spider-hand, then flippantly crossing its noteworthy legs to sit-up to an “all-finger” G, before finally slumping to a phrase-ending D with a high E string asking a Why? on the first pass & disbelieving a Really? on the final. Guitar can be an unbelievably dramatic business.
It’s easier to grapple the various chord formations when I’m strung with my AARP-style light gauge elevens, but I try & avoid that full F#m whatever the setup. It’s about acceptance of the circumstances, in truth. Brief & Boundless is thus such a moment captured from an Econolodge afar: There are two characters, briefly inclined — run out, cresting nest to valley flat. They are the windows beyond the bars. Their story is loose, as if redressed in an alley. They are rendered tokens in scripted shades. It’s warm enough for rayon. A bay breeze sweeps. The sky climbs. Margaritas are ordered. Everything, then, was boundless.
Back here at the opened window, a lawn mower behind my place just growled awake. The cat started sneezing. A rumble yawns from the overcast yonder. It’s the expectant belly of Spring!
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