Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Something I've always wanted to give a good try is to cut a piece of glass with a diamond. They've said that this is possible and it sounds like such an elegant thing to do, cutting your way through a big picture window to get through to the other side and giving all of those wayward birds, bound to smash themselves dead against the clarity of that glass, an opening right into the living room of a home. We're thinking about wanting to use diamonds on glass and letting wild birds indoors thanks to Colorado, by way of northwest Arkansas and many places in between, songwriter James Apollo today - because of a line he wrote in his song, "How Hard." In the song, a man wonders about "how hard a heart of gold can be," and it seems to be a genuine concern, something that shouldn't be dismissed as frivolous poetry for the sake of a song, but a chance to think about beauty and goodness in terms of its selectivity. Goodness can be good to certain people and we're all aware that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that it doesn't always work properly. It has quills and jagged edges that catch certain people. Both can appear fine from afar and then they can turn nasty when we're right up next to them, asking to get a little of their dust.
Apollo, who writes songs in a way that takes us into those dark corridors where we're liable to see beauty and goodness acting naturally, refusing to put on a façade, and giving it to us as straight as can be. We feel that the pickiness comes into play and that's when we see it for what it's all worth. We're seeing those prism-ed diamonds being destructive, no longer just pretty, sparkly objects, but instead becoming destructive and leaving messes. We start hearing about houses not being homes and some hearts, that have been generally assumed to be full of love, kindness and overall warmth, called into question for their little talked about coldness and hardness - something more like density than depth.
Apollo sings about love and its terrain as problematic, even when the best intentions are held, singing, "Loving me never did anyone well," on the same song that gave us the heart of gold reference. Elsewhere, on his latest album, "'til Your Feet Bleed," he wonders about the longevity of the emotion, thinking out loud about how someone knows when it's over or knows when it's not over. There's sadness abounding and there's not much that can be done to change it, but somehow it sounds sweet in the folky hands of Apollo and he leaves us with some consolation, and perhaps what he feels at his core, singing, "Happiness is a smiling face and a beating breast." It can be like that, so just cut that hole in the glass and let the birds fly in.