palace music – lost blues and other songs

it’s valentine’s day, and i’m catatonic

long time, no write. it’s new years eve, and i care not. as i post, it’s the first day of the next year.

the break in adelaide was much-needed, but left me music-less for a little while. so i figured i’d begin again with the piece of work that got me actually thinking about what i listened to back in the late 1990s, rather than just knowing there was a primal driving force of sound and rhythm that was in rock i liked.

lost blues and other songs seemed to me to be interesting in itself. it came as a compilation record that implied a long and distinguished career to that point. in reality, it had only been a genuine four years since will oldham had been producing music, ostensibly the guiding force of palace (though his older brother ned, in particular, had been making music well before, while will had been growing and acting).

it was the first time i’d allowed myself to hear concepts of religion since discovering and settling on the reality that i had none a few years earlier. there was a kind of multi-layered rebellion and contradiction i was aware of and relished in listening to this.

it gave me a sense of appreciating quietness; of the fact that sound for the sake of sound filled a lot of other music. it was also less affected and more genuine and interesting with stories of living and knowing. a gorgeous example is trudy dies – on the surface, perhaps a characterisation of sadness and loss. but it always felt more like a humble tribute to simple things that were once shared.

as i think on it, i realise it gave me the first validation of being different, and able to be different. everything else in my life to that point had been a kind of push-back against the constant and generic pressures to fit in by liking, doing and thinking the same things as other people. or, being different just for the sake of being different.

somehow, this collection of songs brought me to an epiphany that i actually didn’t need to adhere to any sense of normality to be happy or enjoy my life. and i think this is perhaps the most fascinating aspect of lost blues. a song such as stable will, particularly as it is performed on this collection, is heavy on the soul. in my heart, it is still the most emotive singing will ever managed. it’s one of the only sung songs that reaches anywhere near the emotional weight of lyricless music such as dirty three. the odd radio frequency tuning sound throughout, combined with the empty resonant guitar and will’s equally distant voice and screeches, create something wholly unparalleled and beautiful in its own way.

in my mind then, as now, the extension is… like me. to be happy in life, i was able to realise that it wasn’t all or nothing. stories like these, sung and performed as they were, gave rich depth to something that had otherwise appeared superficial.

it’s still a most rewarding place to return to.

who has the blues? not i.


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