One of the best albums of 2014 was Damien Jurado's Brothers & Sisters of the Eternal Son. It's folky, it's surreal, it's metaphysical, it's psychadelic, it's unique. Damien can easily carry a song with just with voice and guitar playing, but this album is both sonically & lyrically layered so beautifully that I keep coming back to it.
Just last night I found myself enamored with the song "Jericho Road".
Here's a performance of it -
This particular performance is pretty powerful. Jurado includes a lot of Christian imagery in his songs, and "Jericho Road" is no exception. My wife has a much stronger Biblical understanding than I do, so I had to have her explain the story associated with this place called Jericho Road. According to her, this is the road in which a Samaritan helped a man who had been beaten and robbed and was culturally his enemy. This after men of religion had passed over this downtrodden man. Hence, where we get the term "Good Samaritan". Please forgive my paraphrasing of the story, I know I probably left out a lot.
I can make fair interpretations of most of the lyrics (at times it feels like a conversation between two men instead one single narrator), especially in the context of the Biblical story. However, one line stands out that I'm still rolling around in my head like a koan -
"We are secrets sold"....
For some reason I find that line pretty powerful; I just don't know why.
That's OK to me. I'll let it roll around in my head for a couple of weeks or years and maybe something will eventually click.
Much to my wife's disappointment and annoyance, I've slowly fallen in love with The Grateful Dead over the past few months. I've always liked their music and listened to them casually, but this summer I really dug in and found myself loving certain runs of certain years, able to discern the different "Sugaree"s, etc. Out of all the things I love about the Dead, one of the things that keeps me coming back to them is that the sheer size of their discography lets me fall in love with certain songs and certain periods. Even though they aren't making anymore new music, I feel like I'm constantly discovering something new about them.
Once of those recent discoveries has been the brilliant song "Jack Straw". To be honest, I probably didn't realize the greatness of this song earlier because Bob Weir sings it... I usually skip over his songs...
This is one of those epic Western songs with outlaws, killings, and hangings. There's multiple characters, and the Dead are designed perfectly to carry out a song like this with Bob and Jerry switching back and forth on the versus in order for the story to really come together.
The climactic build up is as grand as the story itself.
One more thing... I love how the story itself can be interpreted a few different ways - "Jack Straw from Wichita cut his buddy down..." leaves a few things for us listeners to wonder. Did Jack Straw kill him because he was too slow, maybe didn't have anything else to share? Or did he cut him down after he was hung, out of brotherly respect? My answers change depending on the mood.
All in all, probably one of the Dead's best songs. It captures their truly unique way of storytelling both through song and lyrics.
Just last week I fulfilled my New Year's Resolution for the first time in my life. In fact, I don't think I've ever really had a resolution until this year. My secret to success? Picking something that I actually wanted to do - catch at least one trout every month of the year (on a fly, of course). I reached my goal when I landed a little rainbow on, believe it or not, an elk hair caddis, in the cold December rain. It's been a great year of fly fishing - one in which I feel like I finally figured out how to fish. I've been keeping a pretty detailed journal, and I'm looking forward to compiling all the streams I've explored and fish I've caught (and released).
Today was a pretty mild day for December, so I decided to do some exploring on new water. I went to a stream I've been wanting to fish for quite awhile, but I heard it was all on posted land. I finally found a stretch of it that was open to the public, so I ventured down south. I was hoping for higher water than what we've had, but the water was still pretty low. I managed to bring a few wild browns to hand, all on nymphs. There were some midges hatching, but I couldn't get them to take anything on top.
I stumbled upon the name "Raftman's Path" walking the river trail that traverses through the little town I live in. It was named during the days when lumber was a huge commodity in this area. The Susquehanna River was an industrial thoroughfare - bearing down loads of lumber from the northern reaches of Pennsylvania towards the Chesapeake. Marietta was a stopping point, a place for the lumber either to go to the mills lining its banks or shoot further downstream through pig iron smoke. Raftmen would guide the lumber down to the mouth of the Susquehanna into the Chesapeake - an estuary of salt, water, lumber, ore, eel and shad. When their job was done, they would walk the raftman's path back through the Susquehanna Riverlands of Lancaster County towards their homes. The path is now wooded and meanders through some of the only "wild" places left in the county.