Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Ryan McGill
There's a porch that I met this week. We've only known each other since Monday morning, but it's a great porch. It's wooden, it's wide and it has a good lip on it. It's going to be one hundred years old this year and it's holding up. There's this old church pew on the far left side of it that has become a favorite resting place of mine, on these chronically overcast and threatening Austin mornings. It's been a good place to sit with a coffee and watch a mostly empty street and a completely crazy old man in a ramshackle home across the way try to protect the parking spots along his curb. He's winning so far, but I can't tell if I'm cheering for or against him. I've brought some of my friends over to visit this new porch that I've found and they seem to agree that it's a good one as well. Some of them have even reminisced about other porches from their past that they loved and now miss. This place that I've found, randomly, but thankfully, seems like it might be the kind of place that Rocky Votolato brings his friends to, or he just keeps it entirely to himself, for moments like the one I'm trying to have right now - a little thinkin' and a little decompression while all of the fuzziness from a long night melts away and the body is ready to really make an effort.
Votolato tends to come off as a real ruminator in his songs, the newest of which made up his newest and finest collection, called "Television of Saints." He could sit out on this porch here and get so much done. The chirping birds, rattling away can provide the little fires that get him started down a path. The calm of the early morning hours and the pushiness of a steady wind are things that he has to appreciate. He must like the times when he can just sit, even with a head full of wily thoughts, even with a mind that believes and sings, "Some days it's hard to be alive." Some full days, that is, but there are always parts to them - like the ones that he might spend on a porch - that are keepers. Votolato's songs are wonderful at embracing those contradictions - of the good and the bad, of the wanted and unwanted.
He sings about the rejuvenating powers of a stream and how, when he's down, it's always there to bring him some clean, cool water. He sings, "Little spring, you know that when our world ends/The next one begins." There's only one ending that everyone knows about and it's always up for discussion. It's never spelled out. Everything seems to find a way to work itself together and, while confusing, it's still possible to sit with it and admire its contours. He sings, "The poison in the honey tasted so sweet," and that's the way all my mornings have felt this week. There will be two more of them, I'm afraid to say.
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