Thursday, November 13, 2014

Believing Makes It Easy

Jonathan Meiburg on KEXP

I love Jonathan Meiburg. I hate Jonathan Meiburg.

Of course, as I do not know the man, it is the idea of the man that I talk about. It is the familiar in the strange, jigsaw puzzle of accessible information and emotion. One would say one reacts most when confronted with close to mirror image of one’s own idiosyncrasy.

When Animal Joy was released I was not actually waiting for it eagerly. I have heard Rooks and The Golden Archipelago and they did not stink but they never spoke to me. Animal Joy, on the other hand, hit me straight in the plexus with strength of a beserker. Animal Joy, with its flare of renaissance fairs, visceral virility and unforgiving lyrics' paintbrush describing through images of emotion, moments frozen in time.

Even with Jonathan Meiburg’s notorious secrecy in the field of lyrics explanations there is some space for speculation of what’s really happening here.

We have here one J.M. (36) college graduate with English and Religion majors who went (on a grant) "to study daily life in remote human communities to Falkland Islands, Tierra del Fuego, the Aboriginal settlement of Kowanyama in Australia, the Chatham Islands of New Zealand, and the Inuit settlement of Kimmirut in Baffin Island, Canada”, geographer and bird enthusiast keen to express himself through music, seasoned traveler, scientist highly trained in perceiving his surroundings and person with the experience of marriage and its resent dissolution writing all lyrics for an album.

What (and how!) can it be about?

To me, this is a conceptual album. Storybook. Coming of age.

There are many reviews of this album noticing that something new is here, something not seen before. There are also many interviews with lots of chaff to go through.

There is this new both firm and pop sound, so differing from artsy disconnection of previous albums. There is this storytelling, this aura of beginning in the beginning (with Animal Life) and going through the moves, learning his way around (Breaking The Yearlings, Dread Sovereign, You As You Were), being suddenly confronted with the unexpected (Insolence) from an unexpected source (Immaculate) and forced to re-think and re-conceptualize (Open Your Houses, Run The Banner Down, Pushing The River), until some sense is introduced to hurt (Believing Makes It Easy) and new path opens to show that it is growth, rather than loss, that which is happening (Star of The Age).

“Yet no matter how personal Meiburg gets, he’ll still be a long way from truly confessional songwriting, the kind of let-it-all-hang-out lyrics that share (and sometimes over-share) life’s triumphs and disappointments. “Well, no, you’re never going to get me there, I don’t think. I have a distrust of confessional songwriting. It can seem so unsophisticated and dull,” he says. “But on the other hand, it can go that way if you go too far away from the personal also. You end up with the same problems.” , tells us one of the interviews.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that this English professor is in no danger to become unsophisticated. I’m also suspecting he knows that there is no better way to hide personal than in plain sight.

Why Believing Makes It Easy? How did I single it out as my favorite on an album with 10 more excellent songs, with each song invariably contributing to make the story whole?

Because to understand that believing makes it easy is the single most important realization of any person’s life.  Realization that gets you through thick and thin, through conflict, through sorrow, through loss of trust, through everything.

Through everything.

I believe in the rush
I believe in the gathering radiance
I could walk alive
through a burning wall
believing makes it easy

And it comes from someone I see as an epitome of an escapist.

I love Jonathan Meiburg. I hate Jonathan Meiburg.

I am Jonathan Meiburg.

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