Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
One of the methods that David Lowery utilizes to emphasize thoughts in his songwriting is grand exaggeration and something like a riotous, absurdist's version of humor. He blows a simple feeling like loving someone into a crazy escapade, where he's going out of his way to hide that person's passport and somehow getting their name permanently placed on the no-fly list so that they can never get away, ever. The songs that the Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker founder writes under his own name are crafty examples of taking those tired and innocuous subjects and adding some spice and clever irreverence to them. He triple-cooks them, covering them with crumbles of intrigue so that they wind up presenting themselves to us as satire, or an exploration on the crazy contours that we all let our minds trace when we've got nothing but time an energy to stew away on such things that we find ourselves preoccupied by.
He sings, on the gloriously delirious song alluded to above, "The Palace Guards," "It's just my sense of humor, ya'll," and just the line itself is a smirk and therefore a valuable part of the song's structure. You can tell a lot about the writer from it and it allows you to hear Lowery's songs in a similar way to how we tend to hear certain Kristofferson and Loudon Wainwright songs, where the humor is built in to the sentiments. Without it there, in our daily lives, we'd just lose ourselves in our cluttered and clattery psychosis. It's so easy for all of us to just unravel away and feeling the sort of humor in our issues is a must. Lowery is always willing to take it to the line and then go well beyond any form of reasonability, though it's always playful and serving an important purpose.
He seems to address a deteriorating state of freedom or downgrade on the quality of life on "Raise Em Up On Honey," where a man is pulling up stakes and moving his family up into the hollers of the mountains, to live like hillbillies, away from the authorities and anyone else who's full of shit. The place he's dreaming of, for his babies, is one where they're free to smoke weed if they want to and just live untouched. He wants to "go on up the mountain where water's cut from glaciers blue." It's something that sounds fairly ideal, some place where nothing can touch the simplicity, where they'd be well hidden and safe, but to finish the thought, he's going to make sure that - as part of their home schoolin' - the kids are all gonna be given weapons and trained how to use them, just in case the DEA comes calling. The way he sings it, with that lilting and that dimple or wink in his voice, we think that he's doing the right thing, but we have a feeling that he's kidding about his kids being armed.