papa m – two

to begin this day’s entry, it’s important to explain that this is the second in a series of six short releases by david pajo as papa m in what he called the audio tour diary. these were recorded and released between 2003 and 2004, but not as ‘live’ shows. there are no more than three songs on each, and to this end i will write about each song because of how remarkable this series is.

black is the color

knowing how pajo can shred an electric guitar makes a song like this that much more noticeable. most peoples’ reference to him is in his early groundbreaking career in slint (future entries) and bizarre move later career to perform in zwan with the bald freak i’d rather not name (as well as, oddly, matt sweeney). he is one of the bastions of louisville music – a place to which i feel somehow connected.

i can’t write while i listen to it, because i know i miss the beauty and the meaning. this isn’t background music at all. it’s such a simple arrangement and melody, repeated with minor changes, that chart the full life of a love from worship, to slight obsession, to unrealistic hope of reunion. the spoken words at the end, black is the color, provide a creepy conclusion.

in spite of that, this song has always made me wish that i would fall in love with someone who has black hair… though that hasn’t stopped me from singing in reverse to the men i’ve truly loved and lost (a blonde and a brun).

i’ll write to you in a few short lines, i’ll suffer death ten thousand times

mary was the kind

this song shifts the mood. lilting piano with a background sound of ocean/rain (possibly recording noise) that inhabits the whole song, then harmonica, then reverberating vocals (with some later cello/violin). pajo has peppered his music with slightly abstract sexual references, and this includes an example:

mary was the kind that gives selflessly; and many was the time that i let her give to me

the way he sings it lends it an awkwardness that doesn’t seem forced or deliberate. you feel that it’s genuinely the way he expressed himself, and the performance carries such weight. it’s never a contradiction, but a juxtaposition.

world’s greatest sin

this is slightly more explicit in it’s references, and begins with:

there’s nothing between us but the world’s greatest sin

the song starts on a theme through my music collection of some religiosity – something i used to struggle with as a young zealous atheist. how could i even consider listening to or, worse, liking music that referenced things i simply would never believe? how did i find anything in it to connect to when i rejected its principles and foundation so wholly and irreconcilably? pajo, like louisville compatriot and proper collaborator will oldham, has many themes of god, sin and religion streaming through his music.

the reason has always been because they aren’t blind. they’re usually conflicted and mired in a world i understand. in this song, pajo follows a story arc that allows him to conclude thusly:

blowing out the concept of the world’s greatest sin

so it’s clear to me why pajo and oldham in particular hold such a central and unshakeable position in my musical life. for one thing i discovered both when i was forming my own identity, both in terms of my personal taste in music that was separate from my parents’ (which was pretty damn cool in and of itself – for a future post), as well as in my broader self image and perception of the important things that life held.

i’ve never looked back…

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