Saturday, October 26, 2013

Far from Home

Kristin Hersh; photo by Val Phoenix
Got in late last night after an epic day, during which I finally, FINALLY made the acquaintance of one Kristin Hersh after a generation or so of listening and quite a few interview requests. The interview happened, of which more later (should be an Odd Girl Out podcast). And Ms. Hersh couldn't have been more self-effacing and brilliantly poetic in her musings, which included never really being at home anywhere.

Which strikes a chord for me, not just because I am a long-term expat. But, there are some people in creation who just don't seem to fit their surroundings. Like me. I've long pondered the notion that I am some alien being beamed in from goodness-knows-where in order to survey this strange planet and its inhabitants. My report is forthcoming. Beware.

Anyway, after the interview it was on to sunny Wood Green where Kristin was doing a reading/mini-gig in a bookstore. I do love me an independent bookstore, and so it was a pleasure to make the acquaintance of Big Green Books, to scan its shelves and then settle in for an all-too-brief set by Kristin of new Throwing Muses tracks, plus readings from the accompanying book. 'Cause this is the way of the world now, kids. Since the music biz collapsed, it's all about the crowdfunding and bundling of activities.

I quite like the notion of a book-cum-record, and Purgatory/Paradise by Throwing Muses is an intriguing proposition. 32 tracks is a bit much to take in in one sitting for me, so will have to return to it. But, the writing, by Kristin, is brilliant, full of insights into her world and what I call her pancake philosophising. She takes quotidien events and objects and expounds on them in a way that makes profound points.

The set was actually two new Muses songs, plus a traditional spiritual, "The Wayfaring Stranger", which reflects on the journey of life and trying to get, um, home. Kristin remarked it was written by God. Looking it up, I see it appeared in Cold Mountain, which I, by chance, have just seen on DVD. Do like a bit of hillbilly music, when it isn't too God-oriented. There is an aura of melancholia and world-weariness that hangs over such tunes, and, indeed, much of Kristin's work, as well. Soulmates, they are.

After the gig, I joined an erstwhile classmate of mine, plus his mate, for some home-made risotto in a reclaimed old people's home. Now that was weird.

Kristin Hersh will launch Purgatory/Paradise on 28 October at Rough Trade East in London.

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