Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
this is a piece of fiction. it is an abstract view of the beautiful music of The Everybodyfields and should in no way be misconstrued as the band's own thoughts. Tennessee is a wonderful state and religion is a good thing.
Down in Tennessee, driving through the countryside where there's only one way to get everywhere - a two-lane highway ribbons through every city, populous or not, there's a sign for a church, another church and another church every two miles or so. These signs are usually painted on tiny boards, pointing in the direction of the steeple, just off the beaten path and typically seem unnecessary on account of there having been one just two miles behind us. They're always most noticeable in those areas and counties where things look the worst, where homes are falling apart at the seams, where the dogs are all mangy fleabags and where the hard, manual labor must have to go on forever just to buy heat and milk. It's in these hilly parts, that are filled with the natural springs that produce the world's best whiskey, where fates will place you and you have to figure out how to best proceed.
These churches that line the roads between bloody Civil War battlegrounds and nothingness are not filled with joyousness anymore than they're filled with grieving and sleepless people, intent on keeping themselves together long enough to make it to another Sunday, when they can pray their asses off once again, thinking that it's working. The Everybodyfields of Tennessee know that life is what you make of it and nothing more than that. Down there - near, next to, around or on the Bible belt - the hands cross the body more and the hearts are fraught with the gravitational thoughts of righteousness and putting things in the hands of a greater power cause that's what mom and grandma and great grandma always did and they were good people. They got by and didn't have it too terrible bad. They lived and died by the thought of, "This is the way it is. Imagine how sorry of shape we'd be in if we didn't have religion. Then it would be bad."
The Everybodyfields, led by Sam Quinn and Jill Andrews, recognize that there's something missing in the logic that those zealots hold onto, something that gets dropped through the cracks. They leave all of the religious business (if they have any at all) out of the songs they make, but there's a more meritorious bent to what they have to say in their spirituous bluegrass ballads. Those sitting in the pews and slapping their warm hands together to soak up whatever it is they think is flowing in those high-ceilinged "houses" are finding themselves needing more, reliant on something else to fill in the blanks. The ways that Quinn and Andrews approach their philosophies and the general Appalachian mood of hunger and lackthereof - in the categories of any number of things - is by stripping everything completely to its rawness and then finding a different way to make it feel even rawer, a newly discovered way of feeling low, but surviving. What's more lovely than finding someone so deprecated and weary holding onto the light at the end of the tunnel and doing so all on their own, without the assistance of anything outside of their own veins and mind.
Things aren't necessary lovelier when the glasses are all half full and leaking, but when Andrews sings, "If I can be lonely here, I can be lonely anywhere," that's as revealing of a statement as you're ever going to get out of a bleeding heart and that's pretty - in a simple way. It's as genuine and sweet as is pulling a box of old letters from under a bed, hearing the cardboard scratch against the sliding floor, cracking the bends in the paper open and reading the words of a friend or loved one who's no longer here. Quinn makes days sound like something that have to be made through. You can't just walk into and out of a day. There are boundaries and walled off portions to them that you need to get into, to see behind, and that becomes challenging. Some of the people that you want to be with are on the other sides of these walls, despite your protests. Days are to be forgotten and yet remembered for where they went wrong. Through the course of a lifetime, those are going to be remembered more vividly. Quinn tries to learn from his mistakes, like we'd all like to. He's part of the congregation of hard knocks and there's never a roof overtop. When it rains or snows, The Everybodyfields know it. They usually have to change clothes afterwards.
The Everybodyfields Official Site