Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
By happenstance a night or two ago, there was a network broadcast of "Santa Claus: The Movie," the classic 1985 holiday vehicle starring David Huddleston (Kevin Arnold's grandpa and the wealthy Jeffrey Lebowski) as Saint Nick, Harry and the Henderson's John Lithgow and Dudley Moore, on the television. The post-dinner viewing, refresher course of this two-hour piece of cinema brought back many of the plot points that had been weakened in the memory in the years since. We bring this up today, in this essay about My Brightest Diamond, only for the similarities that sometimes come from the leftest fields when the restrictions are lax.
Here we had a Santa doubting his validity in a culture that was being overrun by instant gratification and flashier toys designed by his misguided elf, Patch (Moore), who was an unwitting Benedict Arnold trying to prove himself to the big man in red velvet with the bowl full of jelly. He wished to make children happy and did so by joining forces with a crooked toy maker and slipping the secret dust that makes reindeer fly. The lollipops and candy canes are all the rage amongst all children and a dejected Santa sat at the North Pole despondent, not even impressed with a new doll that wet itself. Patch kept this magic dust locked in the top shelf of a filing cabinet in the manufacturing house in Manhattan, going to it every time his assembly line machine ran dry of it. This mason jar of the potion appears to be jumpy and, if taken in too big of a dose, would produce quite a kick. It sparkles and hops from the lip of the jar like jittery crystals. They must need to be that way. For the cynical and the stagnant, it might not even be enough, but for children there can be no other frontier greater than the sky. A chance to leave the ground would be taken by any hot-blooded child with stars still in their eyes.
Though Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond often deals with subject matter that is of a darker draft, she nonetheless allows her songs to enjoy the very same fairy dust that could give reindeer wings. And since we're into the holiday theme, there's plenty of that same faithful belief and wonderment of the famous Virginia O'Hanlon and the New York Sun editorial written by Francis Church, insisting that there most certainly is a Santa Claus. Worden could very well still subscribe to the idea of Santa as that bigger than life persona of a man keeping track of good and poor behavior and having the energy and ability to visit every home the world over in just under six hours. It wouldn't surprise anyone if she did because she still - to this day - sounds to be someone creating music that deserves more of a mythical explanation and comes from that area above which only space shuttles can travel into.
Her themes of billowing sadness, wilting time, celestial bone matter and interesting turns at folktale, aided by operatic illustration, are reinforced by what could be seen or heard as a childlike infatuation with painting as much of the picture in vivid, often fantastically sweeping colors. Only she paces herself instead of tripping all over her tongue in a frantic high-speed chase to get to the conclusion. It could be that she doesn't believe that there is a conclusion to her or her breezing and atmospheric clashes of spellbinding prettiness and haunting interactions of hurt hearts, broken pieces and an unwritten next page. She writes about the apples that she took from her grandfather's tree only to realize that she had no place to plant the seeds. She writes of star clusters as people and those people smashing together, to produce some lasting friction and a lovely fireworks display. These are the forms and the shapeshifters that she's one of, that she lives through and the music that comes of her pulsing and dramatic gorgeousness is enough to make magic dust somewhat more tangible for the lonely mind.
My Brightest Diamond's Official Site
Asthmatic Kitty Records