bonnie ‘prince’ billy & the cairo gang – the wonder show of the world

i have to be totally honest. this is the first time i have listened to this album.

maybe i lost my way? maybe i turned my back? i think this marks a definitive point when it felt like there was nothing more to learn from the bonnie prince. and yet, when i still acquired because it was a natural state for me. a habit too hard to break.

as i read and listen to the lyrics and sounds, they seem to have been spoken and played some other way by will on who knows how many prior occasions. newness and innovation are, in themselves, not objectives to which to aspire arbitrarily. but this is the first i get the sense that will is no different to any other muso, and nor am i that different to any other fan of music.

his best moments lie in an ethereal space-time combination that’s not recent, current or, can i predict, future. the classic songs we/i love exist in such corporeal vividness all the time, and when they’re played through speakers or performed by him, the physiological and emotional effects on our brains and bodies are unable to be equaled.

i hear a bit of six years earlier in this one, showing some of the ecstatic quality of superwolf. the closest is the song merciless and great, in my opinion the best thing this album has to offer. along with the excellent guitar work and singing on teach me to bear you.

i’m feeling a little pang of hypocrisy. i think i might have said at some point earlier that, as long as he kept making music like he always had (such as this could claim to be), the world would be fine and it could never be taken for granted. but when the most memorable moment is the sound of a metal pole being hit once in the middle of a song, i start to wonder whether perhaps i’ve developed a sort of immunity. or dreaded indifference?

i feel culpable, but not wholly. it’s not annoying, or bad as far as albums go. and yet, my heart didn’t rise once. maybe that’s where my life was at when this came to be, and now, as much as perhaps where his own was when he created it with emmett.

we’re all older; which is to say, we’re all further away from youth when meaning was in everything – every word, every sound, every lewd reference. now they feel a bit too much like seeing a young couple fondling each other on a bus… so far from one’s own present reality and interests, and quite frankly just a bit awkward.


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