Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
When you make the trip down through the center of Illinois, you're bound on all sides by corn and soybean fields of varying heights and the road that will carry you is none too exciting. It's okay, but it's not great, and that's meant as no disrespect to the corn or soybean fields, but once you've come from any other direction out here in the Heartland, this is all just a whole lot more of the same. It's like seeing more water, if you're a catfish. As you drive further south toward St. Louis, things start getting further apart and you find that, just as you're about to drift off into a car stupor, is when you get a little jolt of something to look at in a bevy of pale, autumnal orange light. Soon enough the little place of mild interest is in the rearview mirror and the stupor resumes with full force. It's a steady stream of gas stations and the worst food choices a person could ever make, passed by as quickly as anyone can get away with. There's Metropolis, Ill., a city that boasts a great Superman statue in it's town square, along with a gift store selling all things Man of Steel, not far away from the capital of the state - a city that gets mentioned in a song by central Illinois band Santah. "Springfield" is a song that we find incredibly romantic in spite of the lethargy that sets in when we're passing through that area. It's a love note that transcends what we'd perceive the place to deserve, but then again, if a song like this were written about where we live, or I'd suspect, where you live, we'd all feel the same humble things. It's a place where Abraham Lincoln was laid to rest and it's that mausoleum that is the greatest draw to the city, but the Chicago-by-way-of-Champaign-and-the-University-of-Illinois group crafts a musical description of the city based on it being the home to a girl who was once loved. It's made into a place that, no matter what it is or isn't, was or will ever be, holds a special place somewhere for it being the place where she was raised. Or so it seems. There's a certain amount of loving that goes into all of the drops of Santah songs, that turns the concentration into a gossamer drink that goes down smooth and leisurely. The images that one gets out of the sky, while listening to the songs on "White Noise Bed," seem to be sponsored by the film varieties that come loaded on our Hipstamatic apps, causing so much of what we and they feel to be blanketed in a lovely sheen of nostalgia. The stars raise and shine over Springfield and they tend to cast a glow that dulls pains and enhances those various things that we hope we might never, ever forget. It's always wishful thinking, but they seem to remain in there somewhere and sometimes the way a wood fire smells on a fall night, with a chill occupying the apple-sweetened air, will make you remember things that you hadn't thought of in decades. Santah singers Stanton McConnell and his sister Vivian McConnell give new life to some of those people, places and nights that were loved even for the briefest periods of time. It's that woozy dance of time that comes back and can sweep us all up for another spin at the strangest of moments.