Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
It was partially planned and just partially how it worked out today. Most of the morning and the afternoon were squandered on the menially tasks of the day - the running around, the secretarial work, the chasing phone calls, cleaning up the dishing after breakfast, e-mailing the fingers clean off, trying to just get a little ahead in the world. Suddenly, the day was completely gone, and like yesterday, it was one of the unseasonably warm days that you spit and curse at because there's nothing you can do to enjoy them, cooped up as you are, trying to pay off that car and the house, trying to negotiate just how buried you're comfortable with being. You usually come out on the matter determined not to let that which buries you get any further above the armpits. Just when I needed it to grow dark in the west and ruin the nice weather with a steady autumn rainstorm, it did. Everything cooled off, as the rains came, tucking all of the short-sleeved, glee-filled people back indoors where they belonged. It was like we weren't wanted any longer. We weren't needed.
This is when this essay about the Nashville-via-Wisconsin band Foreign Fields was started. It took the turn in the weather to get me to that point to consider all of this, or at least that's what I've been telling my stalling self. Sometimes it feels magical to actually feel insignificant, to feel that you're of little matter around here - not in a defacing and degrading way, but in a way that's just about right. Any thoughts of leaving marks and legacies are just those of utter ego and righteousness and they're bullshit. Here, during an afternoon that forced all of the weak people indoors so they wouldn't, heave forbid, be soaked by rain and catch a cold, we're insignificant and that raging Mississippi River down the block looks even more like a bad ass than usual. The towering, dark gray clouds built of their own volition and they decided that they were going to stomp around and unload. They could be predicted for weeks and still, it was their choice to do what they do.
The songs of Foreign Fields, without really meaning to do so, remind us that we are beholden to such acts. They are songs that make us tremble because of their stark and impressive beauty. They lurch and they linger and they ultimately topple down, all over us as if they were sweet nothings, warmed up, but timid. They are songs that, without trying, impart wisdom and vision. They make us feel our bones and the blood that pumps to make them move. They make us feel like we could go at any moment and they remind us that the loved ones we're with right now - the ones we never want to leave us - could go at any moment too. Perhaps, that's what makes us tremble. Either way, it's there and it sits with us. We entertain it lovingly and we keep it in drink. We frisk it for the sunlight that dapples in hair. We squeeze it for the answers that will never bombard.