Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Grant Johnson at Good Danny's in Austin, Texas
The scene is a forest. You're way out there, back where the animals are twice as scared shitless as they normally would be, just because no one comes out this far, all that often. Everything's muffled back here, or maybe that's just the sound of protection - of cover, of density. You take a second to worship to it a little bit. You've made your camp, set up your tent and then gotten hungry through it all.
Only the little fish were biting when you were down by the shore earlier, so after throwing the scrawny squirmers back into the water with sore lips and a story, you break out plan B, those classic weiners that you brought with you from home. You're out in the woods rustling up the kind of kindling needed to get a solid fire going to cook those things. You gather what you think will be enough sticks and burnables to get the meal hot and to provide a decent after-dinner fire for the wind-down brew or a smoke. We've come out here, all alone. We're fine with it.
It's what we wanted to do, just so we could sit by this fire - mostly so we could watch it start. We get the sticks positioned how we'd like them and we tuck some balled up newspaper or some dried grass into a tiny crevice in the pile. We're ready to let it rip, for the match to be smashed against the side of the box, scratching roughly, like someone clearing their throat, flicking to life with a nice chemical reaction and a quick orange flare. We start to imagine that kindling and what it's about to go through. It's the thought of the sacrifice that it's making, but the blaze promises brighter minutes and a warmer body. It will nurture sustenance. It will be a companion for us on this solitary day. It will be a reminder that we're capable of bringing about meaning, easily and without really even thinking about it. We're stopped suddenly in our tracks, feeling great and still as dinky as we could ever possibly feel.
It's the magic of the Nashville band, Foreign Fields, this ability to make us feel sunken - near-death - and still as a potential catalyst for something that might not last forever, but will be as thrilling and gratifying for longer than we might deserve. After all, we're all just merely people who keep trying. We try and we try - with our words, our legs, arms, lips and hearts - to be of beauty, to admire it in others.
Eric Hillman and Brian Holl, the vocal leaders for this group that recently relocated from Wisconsin and changed their name from Flights, sing, "Just get up and rise/I already saw what's planned/Let go of me now/I have no need for your hand/Don't open your eyes/Forget all your childish fears/Your footing is sound/The further you are from here/And when you're out on your own/Please take my advice/Just leave your soul alone," on "Taller," and we shiver, out of respect to the difficulty in that thought, and to its unlikely acceptance. We'll just sit here by this fire, trying to figure out our next quiet move.