If there ever was a track one that so thoroughly summed up an entire album of musical stories, it would be ‘Creek Bottom’. If there was ever a song that did such a thing so very heartbreakingly, without even words, and yet with a soothing salve in its hand, I’ve never heard it.
We travel to cemeteries. We head down gravel roads on sunny afternoons. We traipse through fields we don’t own. If anyone asks we’ll tell them our grandfather was Elton and we will let them know that our great-great-grandparents are resting out in that expanse. Then, when they have heard our reasons for trespass, they’ll kindly show us the way and we won’t get lost in the thickets of wild blackberries, as abundant as the rolls of old barbed wire rusting in the corners of the fields.
There is a feeling doing these things. Even the least spiritual of us will draw a deep breath in the presence of 100 year old stones in an overgrown field, miles from the nearest house. They’ve been left alone out there, those humans which are responsible for our very own being, and there are no visitors. Save us, no one goes. Everyone has forgotten.
Doggerrel is a cemetery. It is those feelings of all those relatives that we can’t even say for sure existed. They are mostly unwritten lives and what happened then is lost in the heavy air — the making of friends and the losing of them. The love and the ruin when it came, the life and the death. These are things that you will one day know too and these are things that those after us will forget about our stories just the same. We are the wounded acres.
Fiddles and banjos and John Atzberger were made to tell these stories, those that have languished for years in overgrown pasture. As those lives trail off into the ether so do the things that today seem to us so important. Our eyes grow thick in love but eventually the sounds of that memory become as distorted as the record that plays along in the background of ‘Soft Like Abel’. We leave our blood in the same silo and none of us ever see it — we are too blind but we are all the same and we all disregard in the same degree.
The best of albums, the best of songs, always end up reminding us to hope. This album and these songs have no numbers. It is for all of us and about all of us. Olentangy John has crafted a tome in just 13 songs that details a life, typical and universal. It is a storybook, one suited for the country, yes. But it is also one apposite for every life, too. We are all born from those faded hues that we’re reminded of in the album closer, “Daylong Waltz”. We are all that indelible stringed instrument from “Creek Bottom”. We are all the wounded acres…
Olentagy John :: Daylong Waltz
Olentangy John :: Euclid
STREAM Doggerel via Spotify