About the author: Jennifer Walter is currently an editorial assistant and staff writer for the national science magazine, Discover. In 2018, she founded Dad Rock Radio, an award-winning show that blends tales of family, grief, and loss with 80s alternative rock, alongside her sisters. She tweets as @therealjwalter and posts on Instagram as @rainbowwwsocks.
About the author: For the most part, Jon Johnson has no clue what is going on. He enjoys creation and expression in many forms, and finds it best through whichever medium pops out at the moment. Follow Jon on social @jonneeringo, or visit him in Mallorca.
songs my parents listened to when they were still in love. by Wanda Deglane
To read this piece, click the album cover below.
About the author: Wanda Deglane is a Capricorn from Arizona. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and attends Arizona State University. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming from Rust + Moth, Glass Poetry, L’Ephemere Review, and Yes Poetry, among other lovely places. Wanda is the author of Rainlily (2018), Lady Saturn (Rhythm & Bones, 2019), Venus in Bloom (Porkbelly Press, 2019), and Bittersweet (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2019).
Legendary agitator and union singer Utah Phillips said, “It’s a long way from ‘Dump the bosses off your back’ to ‘How many seas must the white dove sail’” comparing the folk poetry of Bob Dylan to the call-to-action proselytising of the IWW. With “The Saint of Lost Causes,” Justin Townes Earle expands the folk cannon by forging a path right through the center of it.
While there is certainly no shortage of anguish in the current musical landscape, Earle cuts decisively through the droning mass of regurgitated social commentary by assuming the role of both poet and protestor.
The story goes that Saint Jude earned his title as the Patron Saint of Lost Causes thanks to the unfortunate coincidence of being named Judas. Fearing that any prayer aimed at Saint Jude could accidentally land in the hands of Judus Iscariot, parishioners avoided the saint. As the years rolled by, Saint Jude faded into the background, earning him both the title of The Forgotten Apostle and the responsibility of tending to everyone’s lost causes.
Heaving lament at the forgotten Saint of Lost Causes, Earle has little concern with who gets their hands on this prayer. God, man, politician and priest, Earle warns of wool skinned wolves, sharp-toothed sheep and shepherds who have blood on their hands and something up their sleeves.
“Just pray to the Saint of Lost Causes” Earle sings.
In the flicker of candlelight, in every drop of poisoned holy water, “The Saint of Lost Causes” stretches liturgy and elegy in the crumbling infrastructure of the American class system. Like Earle’s 1930’s and 1960’s folk counter parts, he questions power and privilege through an inherently disenfranchised and distinctly American lens. Hope is allowed its due season. Prayer its piety. But Earle’s poetry finds solace in the blunt and absolute, forcing action or acceptance or at the very least, acknowledgment.
In the parabolic cannon of folk music, the art of wrapping a moral imperative in a poetic narrative is the height of accomplishment. With, “Throughout time, between a wolf and a shepherd, who do you think has killed more sheep” Earle does just that.
According to Woody Guthrie, “It’s a Folk Singers job to comfort the disturbed people and to disturb the comfortable people.” Justin Towne Earle is such a folk singer. “The Saint of Lost Causes” sits squarely between Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changing” and Utah Phillips’ We Have Fed You All For A Thousand Years as one of the great albums and songs in the folk cannon.
I recently asked friends to send me song suggestions for a mix. About to face some pretty heavy life stuff, I requested songs that motivate, invigorate, make you dance, feel like comfort food. Mostly I wanted distraction to emanate from the hug of my headphones.
I was rewarded with many genres and a listen to what many of my favorite online friends put in their ears. Among these tracks were comedic tunes, seriously sad jams, danceable gems, wistful acoustics, mesmerizing electronics, classic soul and indie pop for the head-nodding set. I love them all. I also said I would pick one song of the 100+ to recommend here. There were several very infectious and/or wildly emotional songs that gave me pause and lingered around my headspace awhile.
My friend Dan E. sent me a few stand-out selections. Of these, Dream Koala’s “Odyssey” filled my ears and probably my entire aura with rich sound. I could only process the first listen’s description as Lenny Kravitz’s singing style on the mellow, cool, and painfully calm “It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over” colliding with a generous swell of instrumentation like that of Cigarettes After Sex or really any goosebump-inducing rise and fall. Add a hint of Arab Strap’s pacing and the feeling of someone performing in a room with echoes filling floor to cathedral ceiling. This just barely attempts to describe all the haunting, fulfilling musicality in this “Odyssey.”
The lyrics are sparse but have depth of detail. It must have been a hell of an odyssey the artist embarked upon to come to these questions and realizations! The sensitivity and observations are so human. Put into the context of the dark, breezy feel of this song, the weight of the words is delicate but empowered. It seems as though the strengths and hesitations in the lyrics and music mimic life; the truest odyssey possible.
The slow ticking sound at the start of the song emphasizes time passage to me. By the end, the ticking has become more frenzied, the presentation wild, free and chaotic; lost and found.
About the author: Erin L. Cork lives in Missoula, Montana where she can be found writing and hiking in the mornings. She works the swing shift as a train dispatcher. She is addicted to music, coffee and trucker hats. She is currently editing her first novel. Her work can be found in X-R-A-Y Lit, Hypnopomp, Image OutWrite, and forthcoming in others. She is a contributing writer for Memoir Mixtapes’ song recommendations, recently received honorable mention for her short fiction in Glimmer Train, and was a finalist in the Tennessee Williams / New Orleans Literary Festival.
About the author: Allie Marini is a cross-genre writer holding degrees from both Antioch University of Los Angeles & New College of Florida. She has been a finalist for Best of the Net and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her masthead credits include Lucky Bastard Press,Lunch Ticket, Spry Literary Journal, The Weekenders Magazine, Mojave River Press, & The Bookshelf Bombshells. She has published a number of chapbooks, including Pictures from the Center of The Universe (Paper Nautilus, winner of the Vella Prize) and Southern Cryptozoology: A Field Guide to Beasts of the Southern Wild (Hyacinth Girl Press, finalist for the SFPA’s Elgin Award for 2 consecutive years.) In addition to her work on the page, Allie was a member of Oakland’s 2017 National Slam Team. A native Floridian now freezing to death in the Bay Area, Allie writes poetry, fiction, and essays. She can be found online @kiddeternity or to book, contact Sugar Booking Entertainment, email@example.com.
About the author: Nica Bengzon is a Filipino writer who is currently working towards her MA in Creative Writing at the University of the Philippines, and (mis)educating the youth at the Ateneo de Manila University. Her work has been published in Rambutan Literary and the Philippines Graphic, among others. Tweet her pictures of large bodies of water at @mgaoceanocean.
When I was sixteen, I discovered Before The World Was Big by Girlpool. I was really really deep into indie music at the time and I was just obsessed with that album. I taped pictures of my favorite indie artists to the walls of my college dorm — Girlpool being one of the groups pictured. The previous summer, I had started to play my original songs and a few covers at a local coffee shop. It made me feel brave and strong so I carried that hobby into college as well. Throughout my freshman year, I played my guitar and ukulele nonstop. I had a few songs that were a part of my sets and “Cherry Picking” was one of the first that I had learned to play. I remember playing the song until I thought I came up with my own version since guitartabs didn’t have the chords listed and still doesn’t. (I swear, I’m not bitter about that at all! Just kidding, I totally am. )
At the time, I had recently been diagnosed with BPD and I was also in my first big relationship. This song felt like an admission of my feelings and a summary of some of my fears. I was critical without realizing it and I cared so much about pleasing my partner. I felt like I was “Cherry Picking” which fights were important and which should just slip below the surface and become something we didn’t discuss. I didn’t want to lose her but I always knew she was going to leave. So, whenever I played “Cherry Picking,” I was the most vulnerable I could be.
Now, every time I listen to the song, I’m transported to a calm spot of ignorance and acceptance. My dull memory is ignorant to the negatives of the past but my recovery mind has moved forward emotionally from that time. So, “Cherry Picking” is a fond memory and I just think of the times I played it for friends in common areas and at open mic nights. I think of the adrenaline of stage fright, the rush of joy that came with letting people hear my shaky voice, and the feeling of being absolutely terrified but wildly and irrationally in love.
If this spoke to you, please give “Cherry Picking” a listen and make your own memories with the song. Love it irrationally.
About the author: Carly Madison Taylor is a poet, songwriter, and essayist living in Buffalo, NY. She earned her BA in Creative Writing and Dance Studies from Knox College in 2016. More of her work can be found at Vamp Cat Magazine, Rag Queen Periodical and forthcoming at Blanket Sea Magazine. She’s on Twitter @carma_t and Instagram @car_ma_t.