Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Patrick Stolley
A classic stoicness is what the four men in San Diego band The Donkeys have in spades. It's a sleepy-eyed understanding that disturbing the waters and ruffling any feathers is just going to make them hotter - break out into a needless sweat - and it's not going to do anyone any goddamn good in changing anything for the better, from the worst. It's a functionality, a survival technique that lets everything rolls comfortably off of their backs and back down to the floor, like an impenetrable force field that refuses to ever let them down. They can just sit back, recline as steeply or mildly as they feel is necessary, throw their sunglasses over their eyes, pop a cowboy hat over their heads of moppy hair and just forget that there is anything that needs to be done or taken care of that day - or any other day for that matter.
The spots that they point out to us are the ones that don't need much fuss or care. They are the moments that just give us the color in our skin and the cool breeze upon the backs of our necks. These are times with disappointments, but they are devoid of hassle and sin. They are chilled out zones of familiarity and understated calm. We are welcome to them whenever we are frazzled and losing our bearings - the ones that keep us grounded and with at least an ounce of sanity.
The Donkeys don't ask us to relax, but in listening to the country-fueled, psychedelic, Laurel Canyon of the 60s-era music, we are unable to deny our new mood. It is a mood with the top down and the hair freewheeling, with our arms and legs akimbo, loose and saggy, conforming to whatever chair, couch or tree swing that happens to be allowing us to lounge in it at that given time. It's the feeling of an ice cold glass of water as it starts with just a trickle entering your hot mouth and then sloshing over the tongue and down an unprepared throat - burning its cool all the way south and into the stomach. You can feel that sensation throughout your entire body. Their songs explain the pitfalls and the untreatable highs of love, whenever it strikes and whenever it strikes out - however it leaves us and in whatever shape. We are going to be in that shape, no matter how hard we flail or argue. It's best to just let it do what it came to do. Just assume that stoic glow and ease about, as the Donkeys would.
*Essay originally published December, 2009
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