Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
There's always a ton to say about the choices that other people make. There's always criticism that can be made about the choices that we make ourselves. We needn't worry too much as the missteps and the detractors are always the most vocal. It's always a sure thing that we're going to know about our errors and - even if we don't want to do it - we second guess any number of the people in our lives about the bum decisions that they make, when they make them. It's all a bunch of junk though. It's all posturing and self-righteousness that serves no purpose, other than filling up all the unused time with stuffing, feathers and tar.
It serves no purpose, Shannon Stephens reminds us here. It's ugly and it's going to be the first stuff to go up in flames when we die. The Seattle, Washington-based singer/songwriter writes these beguiling and pretty songs that explore the ways that people treat their tender times. They get into the burdens and all of the things that we mistakenly consider burdens. She gets into the ephemera and the locusts, the people who turn out to be vultures. Stephens sings, "Don't ask me why, child/It just goes down the drain and it's gone/Don't criticize, child/Talkin' about the ways we've done it wrong/The Good Book says we'll carry on," on, "Down The Drain And It's Gone." It's incredible how such a passage cites the frivolousness as well as the preciousness of life and living.
Don't we all know that it's miraculous that we're standing, that the odds of any of this all coming together and us being here were significant? It should make taking anything too seriously near impossible, but that's not to say that one should toss all reverence aside. On the contrary, Stephens insists otherwise.
Her writing is a celebration of the craziness of going through our days, even when they make little sense, or when the critics are crowing, when things get too dumb. She sings, "We're gonna be alright/Baby, we are still young/And that's more than some people can say/And we're gonna be okay/At least we have white skin/And when you have white skin/Nobody can send you away/And people are inclined to help/To help other people who look like themselves/We're gonna be alright/Baby, we have rich friends/And when you have rich friends/Those kinds of connections can pay/We're gonna be okay/Baby, we will rise up/Believe we will climb up/To inhabit our corner of sky/And we will be inclined to help/To help other people who look like ourselves," to illustrate the many sides of the wild ride. Take 'em or leave 'em.
Shannon Stephens Official Site
Asthmatic Kitty Records