Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney // Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
There's a passage in Steinbeck's "The Winter of Our Discontent" that I just found, while listening to Laura Goetz, or Golden Ghost - here backed by the Viking Moses band, singing this batch of songs of hers. The great writer writes, "A day, a livelong day, is not one thing but many. It changes not only in growing light toward zenith and decline again, but in texture and mood, in tone and meaning, warped by a thousand factors of season, of heat or cold, of still or multi winds, torqued by odors, tastes, and the fabrics of ice or grass, of bud or leaf or black-drawn naked limbs. And as a day changes, so do its subjects, bugs and birds, cats, dogs, butterflies and people." One can measure the sentiment and one can take it completely out of its context and yet it seems to fit here, in this instance, up against the meaning of the words that Goetz and her exposits bring into focus, as they apply to the exact beauty of the shambles that she enjoys exploring. The person that she conveys in her music is one who has, at every turn, been met with something that's been mostly unexpected, or unwelcome. These things don't have to be the same and they don't have to be separated either. The person that comes out of these songs finds that great disharmony can actually be somewhat melodious. It can make you weaker or it can make you stronger, rarely something that's too soft of flimsy in the middle. There can be all sorts of puzzling ailments, or ways that the day has gone and changed on someone, forcing them to work with the thought of how they're going to straighten it all out, or just wind themselves around with the curves that have arisen. There's something like a blurry-eyed period of time, the kind associated with early days and just stirring from a full or half-night of sleep - some piece of slumber that's been rudely interrupted. It's about trying to see what there is there in front of you and often, it's not that obvious. The sight we have with us tends to betray. Goetz tends to wonder about the makeup of the men and women that she writes about, considering just how they got to be so dog-eared and ragged, abandoned. They've been doused with buckets and buckets of cold water so often that it's a miracle that the stuff in their veins still runs as hot as it does. These are overcast portraits of those who had or have little choice. She sings, "I suffer in such pain/My bones, they were born into me," and it sounds as if his is all seen as the result of something hereditary. These people live down at the end of a dead-end street with their mumblings, with the overgrown hedges and ditch weeds and the heaviest hearts that just long for great loves.