Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Ian Grimble and Richard Matthews of Communion Music at 2KHz, Crouch End, London
The way that Howe Gelb writes about sadness and living through it makes it feel less sad and not as depressing. It's something that borders on a drab kind of happiness, the best that we should rightfully expect. If it gets better than that, we've earned it. The lived in form of happiness is a sentiment that doesn't stun or overwhelm us, but it's there physically and it's a palatable form. It's a happiness via surviving versus happiness via achievement.
It's a thought that resonates with a comment that actor Frank Langella made in an Esquire interview recently, saying, "I have a good friend who says, 'We're all just dodging bullets.' It seems to me the trick to living a good life is to try to move away from the gun you turn on yourself." I wonder if that means there are more or fewer bullets to dodge. It's still an interesting way to look at how we're fighting our losing battles, for they're all losing battles. All that anything depends on is how we script the preamble, the pivoting scene and the last stand.
Gelb, the brilliant Arizonan songwriter who has long helmed the Giant Sand project, sings about future waltzes that might be had, but these could come after ruin has doubled us over. He sings, "Spin, spin, spin/Til the dance does us in," and it's a thought that hurts good. It hardly feels like a disaster, or like the ending, or faux ending, that he alludes to in the song, "Not The End Of The World." Offering, "They say the world is ending shortly/Well, it's already gone for some/Love's been hard here reportedly/Got a bit better come kingdom come," Gelb seems to be thinking about salvation in a way that comes regardless. He touches on the idea of the losing battle, where - just when we think we've figured a few things out, the curtains close for the last time. You claw at them to open back up, but there comes a time when there's no chance of trying again, to iron out the creases. He sings, "Well, it's time for an ending/The way all things must/The time allowed has been a lending/Now there's no time left to adjust." After that, all that's left is the sweet hereafter and that might be where sadness totters.