Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
It's a quiet house tonight. The red wine is staying at a good level in the glass - not too full, not too low. Earlier today, the leaves were clumped in wet blankets on the lawn and they needed tending to, so we got some bags out and we pulled them together, gathered them in icy cold and drippy clots and sent them to their final resting places. At least they were out of our hair. It's all that mattered. As the night descended on this Thanksgiving Eve, the temperature plunged and it was one of those evenings that makes itself more pronounced than it really needs to be. With just the right combination of factors, the hot air leaving our mouths struck the unstable cold and turned into white clouds of great thickness. These weren't the weak, lightly expressed bursts of white escaping us. This was as if we were exhaling novels, full books, 300-hundred pages of words and sentences. They were full-bodied and they seemed to take off from our mouths like big crows who need to make an effort to get off the ground and get their wings flapping. It's nights like these when you wonder when the house is going to start talking to you, to start telling you about the people who used to live here, before you did. It might start to tell you that they never cooked like you did, they never slept the way you did (they had their bed facing a different direction than you have yours facing now), they kept better care of the lawn and they certainly would have been fixing all those chips of paint in the breakfast nook by now. You're surprised that you never do hear from the house, finally being told how disappointed it is in you. Maybe it just likes taking everything in anyway. The wood is too old to care any longer -- whatever will be, will be.
It's nights like these when I wonder if Nat Baldwin is thinking and feeling very similar things. There could be a cough in the night or a strange sound heard in the basement, or a raccoon chasing another one from the pine tree by the window, down onto the roof and over to the pine tree on the other side. There could simply be the sounds that we let get into ourselves - the ones that are telling us we're doing alright or we're doing things all fucking wrong. Most of the time we're able to reason with these thoughts and land somewhere in the middle and that's where we hear the "harsh sobering tone" that Baldwin mentions on his latest album, "People Changes." He's an artist who can make you feel like you're losing yourself and finding yourself at the same time. Who knows how it all makes him feel at the end of the process. His double bass digs in deep and produces this dooming feeling that still makes us feel like we have a fighting chance, as if we're still getting a head start on those things chasing us down.
He's the kind of person who enjoys that space that he creates for himself, when he can throw on a pair of running shoes and escape everything, but escape nothing at all. We're always locked away with the thoughts we can't help but make and there's no mute. It's what can lead someone to write, by way of explaining how he's doing, by way of answering the rote question of what's up, saying, "Hanging out with my brother, crossing my fingers for the NBA, starting stopping and starting smoking, making the same mistakes twice, drinking brews, eating bacon, reading "The Sharp-Shooter Blues' by Lewis Nordan, thinking of video ideas for "Weights," getting excited for college ball, listening to Cecil Taylor, sitting by my fireplace, eating so much oatmeal, missing 'shuck a buck' oyster day at Jumpin' Jay's every Tuesday and then thinking about it all week, planning my grandma's 80th birthday party, hanging with an old dog named Dexter, fantasizing about girls behind counters, afraid that getting to know them will be disappointing and being content with my fantasies, planning tours, getting excited about music again, riding my bike and wishing I were running, reading Runner's World magazine, wanting to take more naps and eat more chili, listening to Kurt Vile. Hope you're good too." It's as meandering and as thorough as we can get. We all still think we're kind of crazy and isn't that the point?
Nat Baldwin Official Site