Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
It seems like the funniest damn thing that when I sat down tonight to immerse myself in the music of Fairchildren, one of the first things that popped into my head was a line from "Field of Dreams," which originated from a novel about a World Series scandal, dreams, magic, Shoeless Joe Jackson and J.D. Salinger (not Terence Mann), by W.P. Kinsella. The line that came strangely to mind was the one that Ray Kinsella says to Mann to convince the recluse author to join him at a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston. He says, "There comes a time when all the cosmic tumblers have clicked into place and the universe opens itself up for a few seconds to show you what is possible," before Mann states, "You're seeing a whole team of psychiatrists, aren't you?" The first line is one that we can get back to, but the response is just as important, coming from a writer, not believing that a string of words that he put together on a page could affect a normal person in a way that would make him want to drive halfway across the country on the hunch that something special and life-changing was going to happen that night, while some people played a meaningless game.
Fairchildren's Julie Davis has long made us into disbelievers that mere words and the way they're said or sung cannot alter us, cannot make us warm and intoxicated. She, along with the entire makeup of the Denver-based band (guitarist Joseph Pope III, keyboardist James Han and drummer Patrick Meese), have been the backing band for Nathaniel Rateliff for years and their inspired performances have nightly changed people. While doing their own thing, they travel down a similarly conflicted path of yearning and failing to find ultimate happiness, while still collecting many of the beautiful pieces, those tiny treasures, that could someday become such. It requires a heart to give much, as it must pump faster and harder to let it all in and send it all back out, without processing it all at the time. It's about getting surprised by spontaneous love and then it's to see it evaporate, though never completely - always leaving a little something behind, like the feather or a fingerprint or some skin. The idea of there being some cosmic tumblers out there that tease us and flash glimpses is understandable here, though it usually comes on like a blinding light, like an oncoming car with its brights on until it's almost passed. You couldn't see anything for a few seconds there and then the darkness seems extra deep, while there's still an imprint of the car glued to your memory. Davis sings on "Garden Gate," an eerie exchange between death and growth, loneliness and joy:
"Run, run, run to the garden gate
Shake the latch
It will give way
The willow drops its leaves in the cold, dark grave
We are standing in the sun
We are blooming everyone…
We are singing our own song."
It makes us hurt, like those bright lights, just mentioned, but the choice was theirs to be made, to stand in the sun and to sing "our own song," an image that could hardly feel more lonely. It's like knowing only what partial happiness feels like and this must be what makes the sensation so devastating, so lovely. It's when we know what we had, what we have or what we could have and knowing that either we're going to walk or it is. Shit, does that hurt, but we don't seem to mind.
Fairchildren Official Site