will oldham – arise therefore

how can one ever think anything’s permanent?

it starts there.

this sat in the pre-2000 collection for a little while before i actually listened to it. i’m not really sure why; perhaps a sense that i was so in love with something else of will oldham’s at the time that there was no way it could compare, and i somehow feared hearing it.

in hindsight, that was a ridiculous thought. to be clear, it is interesting and distinct. the first thing you notice is the drums – not just in the first song, but all songs that have the percussion (which is not every one). it undoubtedly sounds non-human, pre-programmed compared to the singing and guitars. initially it didn’t work in my mind, like there was a kind of organ transplant rejection.

i finally realised that this album represents the most purely philosophical piece of music in my possession, if such a thing can be said. its existence, such as it is, that questions basic foundations of music in some ways. its content that forces a kind of introspection that i am convinced most people never experience.

and through all the thought, there is one of the most gorgeous songs with one of will’s somewhat infamous titles, you have cum in your hair and your dick is hanging out. so much could be said of its simplicity and lamenting slow melody, not to mention other things. but it contains a line of stunning basic reasoning and love: i can’t offer a thing; better than dying so take it!

of equal greatness is the blues inflection of the sun highlights the lack in each. i never worried about the second verse, wherein he sings with enough money, a woman is mine. implied prostitution and a subsequent implied right to do with what he wishes? the philosophy of the album always drew me away from that conclusion, and to a point where it was about an ultimately strong woman who showed him things in himself – a kind of wild sexuality, abandonment and, at the same time, intense self-awareness.

i’d say quite a few devotees would argue with me when i conclude that this stands as one of the best will oldham releases across time and space. it’s in company with about four others that came before and after. it’s a true representation of what music can be.

and so it ends:

i am not feeling the same
i am not willing to carry your name
i am not here and i am not going to be there


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