My second album is somewhat of a time capsule. These are the songs I wrote between realizing I needed to get better and doing something about it.
My alcoholism and dependence on other addictive behaviors (weed, sex, etc.) had progressed to a point where they had begun destroying every semblance of a good life I’d managed to build despite them. To preserve any chance I had at living well, I needed to change the way I spent each and every moment of my time. In order to honestly document these in musical form, I stripped away every instrument other than my voice, guitar, laptop, and tape recorder.
Listen to the album while reading the text.
If it pleases the reader, it may be of interest to read each of these notes while listening to its respective song with lyrics on hand (available on Bandcamp).
is a dialog in which Truth pleads with me to join it. Truth doesn’t care about how good I look; Truth only cares about what impact I have on the people and world around me. If I am to have a chance to live well, I need Truth to be my friend. Luckily, it’s always there for me if I seek it and act in harmony with it.
“Lone Red Maple”
with its hidden lyrics and vaguely threatening sounds from nature, represents the power the natural world possesses and how little (read: zero) that power depends on what I think of it. It’s both a warning and a beaconing. The trees have power; if I want it to aid me and not destroy me, all I must do is respect them.
“A Mural Hidden”
is sort of a sarcastic representation of the things I used to claim I stood for. I always hated gentrification and pop music. But here I am, a white musician. Who am I to say anything about gentrification if I’m not doing anything to resist it? I don’t have to like it, but it’s more important to communicate with actual people on an individual basis than it is to speak into the void about issues I don’t understand firsthand.
Similarly, who am I to say anything about commercial pop music when I don’t know anything about the experience of the people who made it or love to listen to it? No one. This song is a vestige of the misanthropic piss I was writing before (see the first Queen Cabbage LP). Hide the mural. Lose it. I don’t want it.
“I Want It”
is intended to represent the way my addict brain worked and, in some ways, always will. It cycled through stages of obsession, craving, fleeting satisfaction, emptiness, shame, and more obsession. I fulfilled my human need for social interaction and structure with addictions that were destroying me and everyone around me. Thus, I must lock the doors of the spaces I previously occupied and move forward in honesty and faith.
is a relatively straightforward expression of my feelings towards the part of myself that I let thrive in my addictions. Selfish, hopelessly unhealthy, and ugly. In summary, “Note to Self – kill it and get rid of the remains. Make it quick but make it thorough.”
seems a bit cryptic, but is rather simple. The listener will hopefully fill in the spaces around its sparse lyrics with details that make sense to their experience, while the message of simplicity and acceptance comes through loud and clear. Of course, I couldn’t resist throwing in a bridge about regret and self-hatred, but I don’t think keeping that inside would have helped anyone. The more I take the advice I wrote down in this song (given freely by people far wiser than I), the easier living becomes.
“Darling, it’s So Late”
continues the same fingerpicking pattern but the lyrics transition from intimacy with self to intimacy with a life partner. I would be lying if I didn’t mention that this is somewhat of a personal apology for my emotional distance and frequent absence from relationships during my drinking and drugging career, but in a broader sense, it’s an exploration of the details that seem insignificant at the moment but add up to a life-defining partnership. I only have one chance to live; will I come to bed, or will I stay up all night drinking and watching Kitchen Nightmares?
also with hidden lyrics but this time with sounds generated solely from human activity (driving, parking lot, city street, the noisy vent outside my dentist’s office), is an exploration of the way I’d treated people while in the thick of my addictions — particularly women. They may inform or contextualize others’ experiences or they may not, but they sum up mine in metaphorical terms, which has always helped me digest the scarier parts of my own psyche.
is a love letter to everyone I hurt who didn’t take it very well. I don’t blame them. I wish them well. I really do. But at this point, there’s nothing I can or should do about it.
“Make a List, Kid”
is a love letter I wrote to myself from rock bottom. The morning after I had a vision of myself dying alone in a ditch with rotten teeth and a bulging belly, I scribbled this desperate plea. I have since made some progress on some of the pleas, and look forward to living each day never forgetting the desperation that fueled this song.
is the solution. In my addictions, I lived without recognizing that everything I needed to be happy was literally springing from the earth. I want nothing more than a vegetable garden, a clean house, and to help others. This song expresses my desire and resolve to build a life around these things. The seasons of the year, like the hours of the day, each contain unique opportunities. I will no longer ignore these. Thank you, Sun.
Thank you, Absence Thereof.
will you? – I did for too long.
will you? – I’ll try.
Queen Cabbage, Category: Artist, Albums: Hide and/or Seek, An Idiot, Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing, Singles: Pallid Blue Gown, On the Shortness of Life, On the Shortness of Breath, Top Tracks: Rung for Rung, Are You Happy?, MROD, Zipper, Rolling Storm, Biography: Queen Cabbage was born into the royal family of the Lettuce Kingdom, during the age of delectable and delicate “bibb” lettuce., Monthly Listeners: 31, Where People Listen: New York City, Purchase, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Buffalo