Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The day that Iowa City's Jordan Sellergren of Milk & Eggs drove east on Interstate 80 over to us here, she was coming from Cedar Rapids, where she'd just finished taking a test for one of her college courses. To us, and to all of you listening right now - especially to a song such as "Birdhouses" - we're probably all thinking the same thing right now. We know what we're thinking and we think we know what you should be thinking, but we don't want to be too presumptuous. We'll just say what we're thinking and you tell us if we hit the nail on the head or not. So, we're thinking that Sellergren taking a test, being in a college class, this thing that she feels she's gotta do, is a waste of her time. We think that she should drop out right now. There, we said it. We know she's fiercely intelligent - because anyone who writes songs the way that she writes them must be - but college and some field of study that will lead to a regular old job don't seem to be enough for her. Her talents could be better serving. We could use her mind to figure out our own thoughts a little bit better. Selfishly, we need her to do that. We need her dedication to these words and her guitar. We need her to explain things or to frame them in such a way that it gives us the same satisfying feeling that we get after a great meal that takes all night to get through - not based on volume, just based on the company, the conversation, the quality of it all and the great wine washing it all down. We need her to write so romantically about the soft pains and the hard pains that ripple through us and sometimes bury themselves into our pores and veins. We need her to do this so badly that we don't want her studying anything other than what she's thinking and feeling at the time. He folk songs come from this place that's so beautiful for its weariness. "Birdhouses," seems to be a song that's as much about a labor of love and laborious nature of love and all those who take advantage of it, all those who get a taste of the good stuff and spit it back out, treating it unkind. Here, we have a woman building birdhouses - a construct for a heart or a nest maybe, probably likely - and then you have the men, or a specific man who should never be given that gift, so meticulously put together and taken care of. She sings, "These birdhouses/I build them and sell them for nothing at all/But I won't build them for no ordinary man/ No, I don't build them for no ordinary man." We don't hear such poignant lines like those all that often. All the more reason for her to throw it all out the window and live the life of the struggling and penniless songwriter. We feel it wouldn't be for very long.