Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
My father had and still has a tired and often brushed off, canned response anytime someone makes a remark about it being too early in the morning to be awake, to do or not do anything. He would cook up a real wry smile, throw some sarcastic disdain onto his voice like reverb and say, "You call this early? The day's almost over. You missed the best part of it." This would happen at any time in a morning - be it 7 a.m., 10 a.m., earlier than that. He was smug in his perceived correctness, in his opinion and in someone's losing out.
He's always seemed to beat everyone to the punch, or at least he fancies that he's the superior being for all of the days he's accumulated during his lifetime where the sun hasn't come up and the "smart" people were still slumbering hard. Maybe the reason that I scoffed at his quip so often was because I didn't take to jokes that early in the morning and lightening up needs to eased into. Maybe it was only that I hadn't witnessed so many of these so-called mornings that were too much for the senses - when the dew was still smothered over everything like a suffocating, sugary glaze, a power-wash to get all the dirt off the things that everyone did to the world the previous day. The grass and gravel wakes up refreshed, is the way you could think about it. The gritty rooftops and the painted sides of buildings, the chickens, the oily parking lots, the dumpsters and the lakes all get a new try as they burn off that damp chilliness that the darkness settled upon them. There are big, every-fiber-feeling yawns all over the place, billowing out of all directions. These early mornings, when I've been forced to see them, have been sort of magnetic and even more majestic than imagined. They surpass their buzz and so, perhaps the old man's right.
Tyler Ramsey of North Carolina, though he lives on rock and roll time, likely is a great supporter of those break-through hours of the day, when there's an eclipse of attitudes going on while the doughnuts are being made, the newspapers are getting flopped onto porches and roosters are taking their first cups of java to get the pipes moving. The glue from the corners of Ramsey's eyes gets cleaned out with a hook of an index finger and the man - who by all standard looks and measures would be considered quite a tall one - shakes out the drowsy rust that attacks the second the head hits a pillow. He might do all of this prep work to get more active, to grab the day like a bull made of horns, but he loiters in the foyer that protects any part of the day from getting too carried away with itself. Where the whip-lashed spring of the toaster signifying a golden-browned slice of bread hopping to attention and where the stirring spoon in a hot cup bangs like a gong against some glass is where Ramsey governs, where he makes most of his important decisions, thinks his most enticing thoughts. He doesn't leave these early mornings the entire days. He just stays there, enjoying the truth in whispered beginnings, in gentle voiced men and women, anticipating better times or the resurgence of some of those olden good times that feel closest in those early morning compartments.
. His album, A Long Dream About Swimming Across The Sea, is a Loch Ness sort of creature: you don't see one very often, but it gives off the kind of vibrations that these chipper morning hours exude and even suggest the clearings that a fisherman in a small and silent rowboat could come upon as he paddled toward a virgin shore, before the deer had awoke to drink, before any sun had spilled over the trees and onto the sandy shore. He presents that kind of water that looks like a crystal countertop and bare-naked natural beauty in song form on this album, that he tours behind when he's not on the road as the newest member of Band of Horses. He writes songs about people that he seems to have lost touch with, people he misses and people that he'll love forever, no matter what else happens in the wilds. Most of these people fit into all three categories. They are the people who have evaporated and drifted into blurry visions of lapsing years and memories. They get looked upon longingly and spiritually. He asks one of them to help him please stop time and I'd argue that he does that all too regularly with this masterpiece of a record. What I'd humbly ask is that he never asks anyone to restart the time he's stopped. This is better.
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