Thursday, December 2, 2010

Further North

He does exist.

When I saw him, I felt like I heard Bob Dylan for the first time.

With his raw voice, biting lyrics and potent attack on the acoustic guitar – he mimed something known but never said.

...sad, jealous eyes

of sad drunken guys

checking my every move

What you see driving through Nebraska. To Alaska.

* * *

I was snowed in, in New York City. And that’s when I found him.

My car buried in New York

In - 2 feet of snow

For a day, a record store popped up in Brooklyn, only to be erased the same day. Its momentary spot (gone before the snow melted) was at Kill Devil Hill on Franklin.

(open space) Kill Devil Hill

It got converted into a one day music exhibit. You could text to pay for albums.

Flickr Photos: Mayfly (group).

Fatefully, I was snowed in, stopped from going to Canada.

Without a seat, I sat below him as he sung Further North - where I was originally trying to go.

* * *

I looked for his album on the wall. The title--in lyrical handwriting--was barely legible at a distance. His album was camouflaged, literally hidden from the rest. I had to ask him to point it out.

Like writing on a table

“I took a Greyhound to Scranton, and met you there half way

…We headed north in your shitty red Chevrolet."

~ The Falls

Like a premonition, he sung my route home. My friends, stranded in Syracuse, had left days earlier chased by a winter storm. “When it isn’t safe to move.”

His lyrical vignettes were like mimes. I think of bars where I can’t hear anything. Yet I see everything.

“You whispered something nervous

I couldn’t make out a word.”

~ The Falls

as if she blew a kiss in a dream

* * *

Further north, I called him the Alaskan hermit, who has no website, who stayed years away from New York City. Who challenged common notions, singing notion-less, stories frozen in time.

He Howl-ed.

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,

starving hysterical naked

~ Allen Ginsberg

* * *

Skeletons was recorded in a small bedroom, with windows covered in plastic. They say you can hear snowmobile engines humming outside, beneath his “gravely voice” and "duct-taped Martin guitar."

He's a real Nowhere Man.

He spent four years in the Alaskan bush, only recently returning to the City to play where "people can hear it,” one blogger wrote.

* * *

Local Artists know him.

He had toiled many nights at Brooklyn's Bar 4 and Matchless before going to Bethel, Alaska.

Brooklyn Sidewalk he walked on.

In Alaska, he’s worked on rooftops and in waters fishing. On the ground, he’s cared for sled dogs.

In Brooklyn, he sings like a bear who just came out of hibernation. I live in the woods further north. I know that sound.

* * *

Lyrically I have no doubt when he sings.

Do you ever think about the time we snuck away to sea?

~ Falls

But I don’t know where Bruce Springsteen or Bob Dylan would go today.

He’s not Lady Gaga. Or Justin Bieber. He’s no Arcade Fire new media marvel. He’s not Taylor Swift. He’s not even Kanye West. He won’t be Grammy nominated. Far from it. But as I write this, I am further north. Far from LA.

I started wondering if there were more Alaskan hermits.

There's seconds left

They're only yours and mine

~ Further North

A Grammy blogger tweeted this just before nomination night:

“I can believe that

re: finding an Alaskan hermit whose music resonated with you in a profound way"

I told her about the Alaskan hermit after I showed her a Grammy project we demo'd, a visualization we made for the meaning of music Source pics:

* * *

Sometimes you only find a singer like this, last on a list like this.

That inspired me to write a note like this.

When it was safe to leave New York City, I drove through Scranton and Niagara Falls, places he had sung. Near where the winter storm chases you to Buffalo.

Streetlights pissing in the snow

~ Further North

On the road, you do see people and think:

you look like a bitter-hearted divorcee

~ Further North

He sung a lyrical truth. I think when you become a hermit, truth rises. Like on Bob Dylan’s farm.

Skeletons has a “sparse and haunting feel.” The Dylan feeling isn’t unwarranted. Revisit It Ain’t Me Babe. You can imagine someone leaving, further north, wondering if they’ll ever return.

I'm leaving town

I'm walking out tonight

I'm going further north

to go and hide away

from any sort of love

I'll build a life out of loneliness

and lust

and what little's left of pride

~ Further North

Perhaps he was serious when he sang: “I’m never going to speak to any of your kind again.”



These links don’t work. He's further north, far from cliché. But a fan did film him. He does exist.

Further North:

Ed .- he's trying to kickstart his next record @kickstarter under the name Great Elk:


X said...

Reminds me of Jandek's story. He recorded 60 albums...prolific and no one knew if he existed.

X said...

The only time someone randomly sung the words of where i was going.