Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
We're moving into that time of the year when giving thanks is all the rage, when nostalgia and reflection are most important to people. You get to this time in the year, when you've nearly got the entire calendar cleaned out and you attempt to look back at just what any of us have to show for any of it. The last 365 days meant what exactly, we find ourselves mulling over and over, until it once again means less than we think it should mean, after all this time. We're often disappointed that we didn't live up to the lofty expectations that we or others established for us back in the previous December or January, though it's silliness to think such a way. Extenuating circumstances could have led us to have an awful year, but deaths and other misfortunes are a separate category altogether. We're talking here about the little things, about the small victories that will never make it into the tiny space that will be allotted for our obituary. We're talking about the accomplishments that only we're going to notice. It could just be that our patience has improved or our general satisfaction has returned. It could be that we feel like we're choking or that we're getting buried alive. It's all a real possibility too and we can feel it here.
Nicholas Sebastian Naioti, or MR NASTI, writes music that forces us to come to grips with the anxiety in a situation like this one, where we're measuring ourselves against some fictitious stick, some marking on the wall or some muted, but looped voice that makes our head feel like it's pounding.
The songs contained in this debut session by the Tennessean songwriter who had just spent an extended stay in an artist residency program in Fairfield, Iowa, when he cut this, are examples of the joint frustration and exaltation of living. They remind that the only thing that really matters is kindness and bettering oneself to create more good and kindness, but so many other fears and distractions get in the way. He sings, "You learn what you want/You saw what to do/You're putting in the time to learn to be you/We can never die/As long as it burns/We keep that fire alive."
Many times he reiterates that we're going to die - and there's nothing wrong with that. He sings, "There is conclusion in destruction and our confusion over nothing will come to a distinct and definite ending." The clean break really is something to be desired, though we're all aware that there's no such thing, even if we'd like to convince ourselves that there is. We can hope for it, but really, the messy breaks - even within our "distinct and definite" endings - are what make this all mostly worthwhile. It's knowing that someone - or many people - are going to have a tough time missing you, dealing with the loss of you. We're better off with the messy endings that we're never going to have to see. It should make us feel good to know that they'll happen.