Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered and mastered by Matt Oliver
"Rollin.'" The word, in a deep timbered voice and with a flat, definitive period for a punctuation mark, is followed by an exact pause. Then R. Stevie Moore speaks and poses a question that he must get asked a lot, "What's the R. stand for?" He answers the customary inquiry with a repeated version of the word, "Rollin'," only this time, he says it with an inflection at its end. It doesn't make the word a question mark, but more of an eye rolling. It becomes something like another brick in the wall or a way of expressing what he's been doing with his life, for as long as he can remember. Within in the way that he says the word, he breaks down the tedium and the endless calling of whatever it is that he's been blessed and cursed with for a muse. It's all reflected in that word, which curls skyward at the end, as if there's a mountain of doubt about why the person pressing the red record button is even here right now. Nothing's going to be solved. Nothing's going to be completed or finished. This will never have a last chapter. It's this niggling little beast that he's always found eating him up. Some days it's great. Some days it's just so goddamned thrilling and invigorating and then there are other days when it's like the prank where you throw the hand of an unsuspecting sleeping person's hand into a bowl of hot water to try to get them to pee their pants. It's a continuous battle, to harvest the goodness of the muse and to limit the demands that it makes on him, but there's no way to prevent the bowl of warm water from working every so often and he's left there feeling rotten and he can't get away from this, even if he tried. R. Stevie Moore is most certainly a genius character and he's been happily at war with his musical ideas for decades and decades, relentlessly and maniacally documenting all that they have inspired or thrust upon him. His collected works are an astonishing achievement in many ways, but they must be considered most important from his own personal perspective where, whether it burns him or enlightens him, he's performing one of the greatest living autopsies that anyone's ever done on himself. He is pulling out of his head and his heart all of these things that he could have just left in there to rattle and to slosh. What he's found to be such a reflex though is this spilling. It's that leaky faucet that he can't stop from dripping and what he's getting - bit-by-bit - is a fascinating saga of a man who cannot and will never understand why any of this stuff comes to him. He is at the mercy of this burden and this blessing and it will remain an unsolvable puzzle. "The Winner," found in this session has Moore singing about a man doing everything he can to be a winner and yet it's implied that it's not working. He sings, "He spends his life in a box of ideas he can use/But every night you can find him alone, a loser." It brings us into a poorly lit place, with the purple-gray glow of a television, with a man surrounded by his instruments, his clutter and the leisure time that owns him and yet we find this to be a man who is okay with communing with the gluttonous mouth that sings and the head that's rolling downhill at an incredible rate of speed, never to stop, never to slow down. It just all gets thrown out and onto the table and the floor, to lie there to be poked and heard, to be examined briefly until the next purge.