Real, real excited today to present a mix from Jon Doyle, the man behind Wake the Deaf, one the best-written and most thoughtful (and of my very favorite) music blogs going today. In October Jon and the crew put out Quiet, Constant Friends, a compilation whose profits go to global literacy charity Worldreader. Smart, kind-hearted people putting together music with the sole purpose of supporting those who need it the most? Can’t beat that. I cannot recommend supporting it/them/THE WHOLE THING enough, guys and girls, so go here and do that.
The Name/The Story
This might sound obvious, but these songs capture the essence of what I consider ‘winter’ – a remoteness, a certain sense of loneliness that may or may not be an entirely bad thing. It seems to me that lots of sad songs are about digging in against harsh conditions, waiting through the storm until the thaw, and there’s a certain comfort in knowing all you can do is grimace and dream and wait. Sad songs (or at least the best ones) say “I’m digging in too. Keep going. See you in Spring.”
There’s not a lot of time for this sort of attitude in today’s world (was there ever a time?), so hopefully this mix carves out a space in which you can hunker down.
The title is taken from the Talons’ track ‘fuck everything’, and seemed appropriate: “Everything dies in the winter months. So what? Let’s not worry so much, ‘cos under our clothes we’re wild still.”
The art is a photograph I took in Finland a few years ago. We went to a place called Iso-Syöte right up near the arctic circle for what was my first, and most likely last skiing, trip, avoiding the slopes in favour of wandering around with a cheap plastic film camera. I’d claim some careful artistic choice but the fact is the shots came out strange, probably because my fingers were cold, but I think it works for the spirit of the mix.
The Mix-Making Process
I usually build my mixes from a particular opening and chain the songs together from there. I liked the way the Danielle Fricke track segues into the field recording at the start of The Antlers one, so used that as a starting point and added songs one by one. I liked the idea of this muted ambient sound underpinning the whole thing, so included the Stupid Loser track around halfway as a sort of intermission, as if you’re flipping the tape and listening to your (cold, wintery) surroundings. I had maybe 25-30 songs I’d scribbled down as possibles but many of them just didn’t fit. For example, I originally had ‘In The Attic’ second straight into Timid The Brave, but upon second listen it ends really abruptly and felt really jarring, so I doubled up on The Antlers to retain the flow. This sort of thing happens all the way through and can make or break a song’s chance of making the final list, though it’s often over really small things that bug me but other people might not notice. Maybe there are things on this mix that bug other people but are fine by me. Who knows?
Evening Hymns, ‘Dead Deer’ – Bonnetta’s writing has been a favourite of mine for a good few years now. This song is from their first record, a love song that is at once claustrophobic and lonely:
“We sleep in a heap on the floor
Our bodies are declaring war
Keep our eyes peeled on the door
My body it lies like an arch
Like a bridge over yours in the dark
And our hands they are tangled in two
They’re tangled into one”
Also Talons’ deserves a mention (and not just because I stole his words for the title). He’s a really underappreciated songwriting project, if super-sad lo-fi snippets are your thing.
Songs Which Missed Out
I had songs by Field Report and Advance Base which I really wanted to include, plus the old winter mix veterans like Donovan Woods, Bon Iver and Nathaniel Rateliff, but alas, they didn’t sit right with the others. Also, I’d have included Gregory Alan Isakov’s cover of ‘The Trapeze Swinger’ if Adam hadn’t beaten me to it.