I wrote this song during winter in New Hampshire. Most people here seem to like the ice and snow, but to me they were prison bars. Staying indoors all the time can feel very claustrophobic, but so can walking around under gray skies covered from head to toe in thick black fur, unable to breath and still freezing.
But, since everyone else seemed to love winter, I figured there must be something I was missing. I wanted to love winter too; I just needed to know how. So I went to the library to check out books about eskimos, hoping to pick up some tips on how to be happy in an all white world.
From the eskimos, I learned the importance of drinking fresh seal blood so your soul will be part human and part seal. I learned that you can eat raw brains, liver, and intestines, and that meat doesn’t have to be cooked, it can be eaten frozen as well. I read about wife swapping, and giving away babies you couldn’t feed, sometimes even leaving them outside on the ground in the hopes that someone else would find them before an animal did. Their lives reminded me of White Fang and Call of the Wild- deep, rugged, brutal, and nothing like the lacy white wonderland I had been hoping to read about!
The cold seems to drag everything down, forcing you to make tough choices between what to hang on to and what to let go of. I know some people choose to live in super cold environments where the sun doesn’t shine for months at a time, but I still don’t know what their secrets are. How does a person keep happiness alive when all the fruits and flowers have died?
Yesterday, on WSCA Portsmouth, I interviewed Mark Olson (of the Jayhawks), one of my top two favorite musicians of all time. I liked him a lot. For someone who writes such wistful, nostalgic music, he was a very fiery and down to earth kind of guy. He said his favorite stone is carnelian, which I thought was fitting.
I wrote this song when someone I knew was dying. I was expecting death to be black and grim, like suffocation in a haunted house. Instead, it felt as though a hole in the air had been ripped open, flooding the room with golden sunlight. And this sunlight kept flooding into the man, absorbing him, even as he fought against it.
His will was like an anchor, holding him to this time and place, but his will began to break down beneath the bombardment of golden light, until his mind detached and was floating in the air, half of him in this world and half in another one.
On the other side of the rip in the air, it looked like outer space, except that the space was gold, not black, and all the stars were closer than moons, like gigantic golden orbs filling the sky. And as it shone into the man’s room, the light surrounded ordinary objects with rings of gold, so they, too, began to seem vast and awe inspiring, the sight of a spoon suddenly causing your heart to catch in your throat.
This song started playing in my head while I was living in Brooklyn, but I refused to write it down because I was determined not to write any more songs. Living on the outskirts of Brooklyn, a two hour walk to the subway, the idea of writing songs for nobody seemed both pointless and depressing. I thought my head space would be better used for something practical, although I wasn’t quite sure what that would be. It felt like I had reached the end of the my universe… no more hopes and dreams… no future to look forward to… just a never ending stream of three inch cock roaches to kill or run from.
The only thing that kept me going was a nearby drug store where I could buy 5 packs of potato chips for a dollar. They came in about 15 flavors ranging from Cool Ranch Doritos to Cheetos. Every evening I would walk to the drug store and select five packs. I would eat one (which was always thick pretzels) on the way home, and then eat the other four while watching a movie on my computer.
I didn’t want to be in Brooklyn, but with no money and no car, what could I do? One day, I decided to paint my apartment sky blue and decorate it with pictures of airplanes, hoping they would magically give me the power to fly away. A few days later, the answer struck me like lightening- I could rent a car and move back to Kentucky! How could it have taken me so long to realize something so obvious?
Leaving New York was the best feeling ever. Driving through the Amish countryside in Pennsylvania… buying fried chicken liver at a gas station on the Kentucky border… in comparison to Brooklyn, the rest of the world was one giant paradise! The people didn’t yell or throw glass bottles at you, the streets were wide and clean and the cars seemed to glide along in slow motion. There was no trash that blew down the sidewalks, no curly dark hairs in the breadsticks. Suddenly, every good experience had become affordable and within reach.
And so, at last, I had enough energy to buy a legal pad and write down this song.
I wrote this song while living in Egg Nest, Beverly Hills. At the time, I was attempting to support myself by selling paintings, which was a reasonable idea, since I had sold many of them, especially portraits, over the last couple years. Except that something about the IQ mashing euphoria of southern California had gone to my head, causing me to think it would be a good idea to multiply all my prices by one hundred. That way, I’d be a hundred times richer, right?
Needless to say, having prices that started at $20,000 made paintings difficult to sell, and being the owner of a twenty million dollar art collection was of little comfort once my food supply dwindled to candy bought with street quarters and online dating sites.
I wrote this song while living in Nashville. At the time, I had a band called the Jordan Almonds, which consisted of me, a drummer, an egg shaker, and a guy that would dance with a bucket on his head that said “2 YOUNG 2B GAY.” Sometimes, the Almonds would dress up in lavender silks, and once they even agreed to superglue mustaches to their faces made of faux fur. They made it much easier to get up on stage, because all the criticism that used to be directed at me was now magically redirected to the bucket on Cobey’s head.
I wrote this song in Los Angeles while living under the the grip of multiple “reverse spiral” relationships. Reverse spiral relationships are those where the more you give, the more you end up magically indebted to the other person, causing you to give even more, and so on.
Feeling too guilty and afraid to consider ending these relationships, the only solution I could envision was the possibility of a furry beast living on a deserted island, who could seduce these people into her sweet smelling, muscular arms and never let them go. A win-win situation for everyone (except maybe the beast.)
When I hear this song, I think of the Ohio River that separated Kentucky from Indiana. I see Indiana at night, shining with green lights like the Emerald City, and me standing in Kentucky, filled with longing. I see ghosts crossing the river, leaving Indiana to reach Kentucky, wearing long lace dresses that flutter in the breeze. I think of myself, all alone on the shore, bombarded by ghosts, and wishing there was a way to reach that Land of Dreams on the other side of the river.
Some say the color purple is like a gust of wind, rushing into your ears and swirling your brain around, and I agree with them. This song was the product of two sources of purple, and that is why it seems a little florid and obtuse- even by my standards.
The first source of purple was a musician (with a lavender aura) that happened to be sleeping at my Nashville apartment when I wrote this song. He had come over to write a song with me, but we ended up drinking some beer and falling asleep instead. Nevertheless, his sleeping presence was a definite disturbance in the force, like a lavender pea beneath my bed, agitating me into writing.
The second source of purple was my newly painted lavender bedroom. I had read in a feng-shui book that painting the southwest corner of your home purple would bring in money, and being a practical person, decided to give it a try. Luckily, it worked, and a couple days after painting my walls I sold some paintings for a few thousand dollars- a small fortune to me!
So… I guess this is a song inspired by the color purple- light purple, my favorite shade.