Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Brad Kopplin
The task in writing and thinking about Luke Temple, after having done it blubberingly and honestly numerous times before is to continue to reconcile what's obvious about his unique talents as one of the world's premier songwriters and reading in last week's Billboard magazine that he's sold only 3,000 total copies of all of his records, combined. It's necessary to turn down the bitterness and disappointment in our fellow man and woman and to see through the appalling lack of recognition of the merits of last year's extraordinary Snowbeast.
It's a savage world out there, a cutthroat environment where selling records is about as easy as going door-to-door selling vacuum cleaners or Tupperware sets, but the amount of time that it's still taking for Temple - this dynamic lyricist who pens crystalline petals - is obscene and grotesque. He's dangling from the fringes, hanging onto stray strings, when he should have his own brand of limelight named after him and he should have a closet full of fine suits and expensive shoes, not that he desires any of it. He could get by with enough money for room, food and a pleasant chunk left over at the end of the month for the quiet luxuries - some painting supplies, used books and movies, drinks and miscellany. He deserves all of it at the very least, for what he proposes in the songs that seem to be bursting forth from him over the course of this last year, are the succulent notions of distance, relationships that never get easy, the search for personal beauty and contentment and the ghostly ways that we choose to move about our days, whether we realize we're making the choices or not.
If there wasn't already one Thom Yorke out there, we could have been alright giving him this name, in all seriousness, for the ways in which interactions are portrayed in Temple's songs is gratifying and ingenious in more ways. He must find time to believe that you do it to yourself, in all the karmic discrepancies and in messing up more than you get right, but never stopping to just shuffle your shoes or to plant roots and cease trying. The imagery of a deathbed and of the weekend warrior (where a few people have his songs in their heads) within this new set of Temple songs are bold and bright and share some of the same tragic, yet defiant, hopeful and consternated feelings that could have come either from a re-read of "A Perfect Day For Bananafish" or "For Esme - With Love and Squalor" or from the deep chambers of his own spirit. They're most appropriately and likely from those chambers. The people will pay to let him down, he grouses about the weekend warrior. He sings, "What if you fail/What if your skin grows pale" and it sounds like a pointed question that has three fingers pointing back at the speaker, wondering about the quick and barbarous elapsing of time. He then sings, "Will she have a soft spot for the dull side of your knife/you give her something steaming from your rusted little pipe" and it's followed with his friends laughing and commenting that he's just a weekend warrior, that even the glimmers of forward progress could get dismissed with a wave. It's become a joke, though it retains some sort of nobility that never gets cheapened in the eyes of the "warrior." We don't need Temple to become a recondite, a John Kennedy Toole - who doesn't get a lick of recognition or popularity until after his death. He doesn't need to be one of those impossibly gifted writers who become that out-of-print legend, saving up memories for Sundays that only few people other than himself would remember having ever happened.
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