I’d published these posts without Soundtracks while I was reading the calendars. But I decided to add Tiny Desk Concerts to them when I realized that I’d love to post about all of the remaining 100 or shows and this was a good way to knock out 25 of them.
Anaïs Mitchell is a singer-songwriter with a delicate, almost childlike voice (there’s a bit of Nanci Griffith in there). Her songs are stories full of narrative. Musically, the songs have complex picking melodies–it’s fun watching her hand fly around the fretboard on the first song.
She plays guitar and sings and is accompanied by Michael Chorney, her longtime collaborator.
For “Shepherd,” they play with a capo on the sixth fret m which really limits the notes they can play, but which doesn’t limit the musicality at all.
For “Young Man In America” she keeps her capo on 6, but he moves his up to the first fret, which allows some more bass notes into this song. There’s a bit more drive in this song as well. The storytelling is quite complex and fun to follow.
“Tailor” has the same set up as the previous song, but it is much slower. I like the lyrics in the beginning,
When he said, when he said that he liked my cut of hair
I became a barber
When he said, when he said that my scent was eau de fleur
I became a perfumer
When he said, when he said that he liked the clothes I wore
I became a tailor
Although by the end, “didn’t I drink her nipple dry, who am I,” is a bit unexpected.
Her voice can get a little cloying at times–too childlike, perhaps? And her songs don’t really have any hooks. So fifteen minutes is about as much as I could take. But an occasional song by her is quite pleasant.
[READ: December 18, 2016] “A Follower of Aeromat”
Near the end of November, I found out about The Short Story Advent Calendar. Which is what exactly? Well…
The Short Story Advent Calendar returns, not a moment too soon, to spice up your holidays with another collection of 24 stories that readers open one by one on the mornings leading up to Christmas. This year’s stories once again come from some of your favourite writers across the continent—plus a couple of new crushes you haven’t met yet. Most of the stories have never appeared in a book before. Some have never been published, period.
I already had plans for what to post about in December, but since this arrived I’ve decided to post about every story on each day.
Sheila Heti writes stories that puzzle me. Sometimes I like them, sometimes I just don’t get them. I often find that I enjoy parts of her stories quite a lot, but that overall I just don’t understand the point..
This is one of those.
It opens with a description of a mountain top which is a marvelous place for a picnic. The climb up is rewarding but climbing down is much harder: “much harder to climb down from the height of your powers than it was to climb up to meet them.” Very true.
The next paragraph speaks of the glimmering emerald at the bottom of the ocean–an item that no one can reach and for which people have perished. I loved that.
The third paragraph tells us that the only thing in life is to tell the truth, if you can figure out what it is.
So far so good.
Then we get to the title. The narrator is a disciple of the prophet Aeromat.
He is devoted to Aeromat and pledges his life to the prophet who died in ’93. The narrator has traveled around since then, living in cold street and not shielding himself from dangers. But no harm ha come to him.
The reason he is relating this now is because he believes he is dying and Aeromat said that when a man is dying he begins to tell his story to the outside world.
Why does he think he is dying? Because he went to a tarot card reader and she pulled out Death as the narrators last card.
She claims he has frightened death (and there is an illustration of the card to prove it).
The end of the story, the last paragraph is surprising, a bit shocking and, in my reading, really funny. Although the narrator’s take on things may not be so funny after all.