Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
It's no wonder that the guys in Chamberlin can identify with the characters in Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al." They write into their own songs men just like Mr. Beer Belly and the main protagonist, who begins the song by walking down the street and asking of himself and to no one but the humming street lights and the loitering newspaper dispensers, "Why am I soft in the middle?/The rest of my life is so hard." He's dwelling on the thought, wondering how he came to this point, with his bleary eyes and weary blood and guts. They turn what Simon did more as a whimsical vibration into the darkened sensation that the lyrics would imply. These are folks that are bent on madness, just moments from exploding, bursting all of their vessels. They aren't despondent, but they're getting loony, feeling up to their eyeballs in all of the craziness that they've got no handle on and no control of.
These are men who are searching themselves for anything that might serve as a rope, anything that could be used to fish themselves out of the body of muck that they're drowning in. They'd like something close to redemption. They'd like the moonlight to cast a better glow on things for they've gotten too used to seeing everything in scary negative tones. They've forgotten what delight might look like. They've tired of the dead ends and the squawking coming from the limbs overhead. These are people who have forgotten what it means to be themselves. They're don't feel all the way right and they're looking for reasons that would be. They're hoping that they won't just be left in the dust, there in the backwoods where they're spinning their wheels. They're looking for some mercy - just a little of the stuff - and they don't care where it comes from, just so long as it comes. They're used to staring into the eyes of mockingbirds, recognizing the similarities in others seeking the same things, crying the same ways, biting lips the same.
Chamberlin songs make us nervous for the next act, for the next few days because everything seems hanging in the balance, tottering so delicately. These are issues that cannot be slept off. They won't burn away given enough time. They are residual. They echo and stain. They are ours.