Monday, August 29, 2005

Nickel Creek - Jealous Of The Moon

I've always associated the Creek with a kind of serenity, being the kind of group who once put out a song about a lighthouse, and who, with the aid of Dolly Parton, almost managed to turn Collective Soul's perennial stinker "Shine" into a reflective, almost spiritual bluegrass dance, and were only thwarted by the rankness of the subject matter.

The moon itself I tend to think of as being serene, despite the hot lundar days of actuality, and it's a body often given this trait, if not anthropomorphised completely - Shania's done it ("If I were the moon I would catch your eye/I'm jealous of the moon"), Neko's done it ("I'm so lonely/I wish I was the moon tonight"), that's just in the last three years, it's not a new thing, of course. It's also conveniently outside the earth, on which most of the problems we face with other people, work, stress, failure are located. So as a romantic escape destination, it's still got utility beyond its lack of hospitability.

Here, the narrator is half admonishing - "staring down the stars/jealous of the moon", if she's up in space already, what's there to be jealous of? - and half comforting, or trying to, exhorting her to call him, to reach into the world for assistance rather than floating above it. And parts of the harmonies in this are, despite their inherent sweetness (the Nickel Creek boys and girl gel like dusty-haired angels most of the time) are harsh and abrasive.

Misery is contagious. It starts out as asides to the depression - the tinkling is creeping through doors without wishing to be seen or heard, but by the end it's taken over everything and each word is awash in it, even though it's just the spread of someone else's pain - "Together we can find a god we can pray to". The whole thing is deeply sad on all sorts of levels, the vagueness of it all, the uncertainty of the cause means you have to paint the details yourself, but this is as pleasurable as five minutes' worth of wallowing in someone else's swamp gets.

Why this sort of stuff is basically unlistenable when done with only guitars, but can work on a fiddle, a banjo or basically anything that isn't a guitar is one of life's arcane mystries, but there's no point questioning it.


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