Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
We get slung into this place without warning, without being asked and we're forced to deal with it all. One day we come out wailing, scared out of our infant minds about what's happening to us, shivering and dangling, with all of these hands all over us. Then one day later on, some of us might go out the same way - wailing and scared out of our fading and fragile minds, feeling the fear that we had always wondered how it would be when it finally arrived.
The lucky ones are let off with a benevolent passing, something quiet, something not so sloppy and shaky. Netherfriends lead singer Shawn Rosenblatt is a writer who looks at these extremely personal notes to the self - answers to his own questions of how will I act, who will I be and how am I doing in the overall decency department - and delivers his conclusions in the form of his churning and soaring songs, music that takes after those big-sounding, anthemic odes that we get every once in a while. He writes songs that are the equivalent of the most private notes shaped into open letters to the heavens or whomever, upon hearing some of the pleas, or any of the concerns, might actually be able to help the situation some. There are wishes to be a better person and yet they seemed to being tossed out there by someone who is already doing well enough in that anyone with a strong attraction to self-improvement and a wish to be kinder, more loving and thoughtful is likely supremely sweet and lovely.
When Rosenblatt starts thinking about his possible demise someday, on "If It's Too Early/If It's Gone…It's Gone," he finds an interesting aspect to be the most worrisome to him: the loss of his hair. He sings a big chorus, in a way trying to seduce his hair into sticking around, as he sings, "I want you to stay with me, stay with me, stay with me." He explains the reasoning in a way that cites the visual loss of vitality and the psychological feeling of physical destruction of being too much to deal with, saying, in a written explanation of the song, "I fear getting old more than dying. I am hesitant to say that I kinda hope there is an apocalypse so at least I could say moments before that I got to die doing what I love. In a very narcissistic sense, I really, really like my hair and it currently doesn't like my scalp. I hope I will be as cool as and look like Will Oldham when I am older."
Throughout the Chicago band's album, "Barry and Sherry," we are treated to Rosenblatt's very picky self-criticisms and wants for himself, such as the desire to start singing more closely to the way his speaking voice sounds. They don't sound at all like the trifles of an overly conscious person, but rather the honest notions that so much of what we are and so much of the way we behave is negotiable and when it needs to be accounted for, we'd best have some good reasons for the things that we did and the way that all of this turns out, whether we lose all of our hair or are stopped short of seeing it through.