Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Patrick Stolley
Tom Waits likely had someone else interview the nanny candidates, when the time came, but it's a fun exploration in thinking that the meeting was something like that of Mr. Banks interrogating Mary Poppins, with Waits sitting across the table, asking all kinds of impertinent questions that may or may not have had any relevance to child-rearing and care. He could have played some rounds of word association, asking her to say the first thing that comes to mind when he says things like "bloody feet," "Mississippi River," "Geronimo," or "happiness." He might have set out in front of her a batch of Rorschach tests, ones that appeared to show a vulture picking the bones of a dead antelope or of pioneer men building a log cabin. Hoop, the singer-songwriter from Northern California, would have given Waits all of the right answers. She would have responded in ways that could have been facsimiles of those that he would have used if the tables were turned and he were in the hot seat, looking for a job. Hoop is pure, fresh water. She is a woman with an adventure going on inside of her at all times, turning on all of her lights and keeping her alert to all of the brightness that persisting and banging around. There are the thoughts that come to her like woodland critters, sneaking in through a faulty basement window, the storm cellar door or in through the attic, via the roof. They scurry here and there, trying to stay in the corners and the shadows, but she sees and feels their paw prints, the pads of the coons and the opossums, as well as the sharp-triangled hoof prints of the deer in the dampened earth when she collects her thoughts in an awakened state in the mornings. She's enchanted by them and she tries to reconstruct their goings on, tries to retrace their steps to get to the same fates and the same arbitrary discoveries that they make, as she lies dreaming. Much of Hoop's music is that of a fantastical nature, filled with animals that are taking the forms of the morals of the stories, acting as the catalysts for epiphanies and revelation. "Hunting My Dress," the title track off of her latest album is a stunner, a song that doesn't have to woo you. It just gives you the opportunity to bask in a piece of song that shines for all of the right reasons: beauty and a poignancy that's often very hard to come by. She sings, "I am a raccoon and you are an owl/I will run from you in the middle of the night/And we will strike a truce in the billowing tower/And we'll eclipse the moon with our firelight/Hunting my dress/Love is ruthless/You love me in my dreams/It's easier when I'm fast asleep/But I don't want you to come to me anymore," and we come to believe even more completely and fully how complicated we all are and what makes us - along with love - so ruthless is that we're harboring any number of owls and raccoons inside at any given time. Hoop likes to observe them. She lets them play, not minding cleaning up the feathers or the uneaten feet when the episode's over, depending on who wins this time.