Can we all just take a moment to appreciate how all five albums that Robert Pollard released in 2006 are completely mindblowing?
There are records that affect you, and then there are records that affect you.
In 2008, I was working in yet another indie record shop, and mentally, I was in a very bad place. I’d found myself dealing with legal issues that stemmed from issues that ultimately had very little to do with me, I’d been working very hard on the Marc With a C album that would become Linda Lovelace For President and it was starting to look like it’d never actually be released, my family was filled with more drama than I care to recount, and I was watching the slow demise of physical media happen first hand. Now, sure, that might not sound like the worst position, but let’s take some stock into what that actually meant at the time:
- The things that I’d worked my whole life to make were meaning less and less to people
- The music that I’d made was possibly not going to be heard
- My freedom was in jeopardy
The stress that I was dealing with in this period had caused me to lose my voice completely. Or at least, that’s the only thing I can think to attribute it to. I wasn’t even physically ill. I can only imagine that it was some psychosomatic response to feeling as if it didn’t matter what my did with voice, because it wouldn’t be heard anyways. And when it was heard, people weren’t listening.
My voice didn’t just disappear for a night or two, either. No, it was gone for a full excruciating month. This made it nearly impossible to do my day job, and I couldn’t really work on my music, and without songs, I was unable to communicate the anguish I was feeling effectively. It was a self-defeating nightmare cycle that ultimately made me bad at everything I did. I’d been reduced to staying in the back of the shop to clean records at this shop, and if a customer did ask me a question, I had to quickly jot a response down on a notepad and hope that they were able to read my infamously terrible handwriting. I was miserable.
One of my co-workers at this little record shop was a rather insidious and misguided individual that we’ll call Hobbes for the purpose of this story. He had the ability to be a rather nasty man, and was later dismissed from his post at this job for flipping some of the rarer records on auction sites at the like without consulting anyone and eventually pocketing all of the money for his personal gain. But on one fateful day as the shop was closing up, he must’ve noticed what a bad place I was in, and in an uncharacteristic show of kindness, he slipped me a promo CD as we walked out the door.
Hobbes: “Hey, maybe this album will make you feel better”.
Hobbes: “It’s from The Source Family, they made a bunch of crazy psych records in the seventies. This is a newly unearthed recording of them. You might like it!”
Me: *takes the CD, shrugs, walks away*
I didn’t think much of the gesture. When I got into the car, I placed it on the passenger seat and drove home in more unfettered misery. I realize that the term “unfettered misery” loses a lot of it’s impact when typed out, but my thought process on that drive home was simple and exceedingly selfish: “if I don’t feel better by the time I leave for work tomorrow, I’m going to drive really fast into a telephone pole”. It wasn’t much of a plan, but it was, in fact, a plan. I went home and pretended that everything was normal.
The next day, I awoke and felt even worse than before, and while I’ll spare you the gory details, I don’t remember anything about actually leaving the house. I don’t remember if my wife was there or what I might’ve said to her. I got in the car, backed out of the driveway, and found myself driving in the direction of work, but as I’d actually left the house a bit earlier than intended, I thought, “what the hell, I’ll play that promo CD that Hobbes gave me”.
“How long in time will you persist / In ways that hurt you…”
These are the first words that came out of the speakers. A lovely feminine voice sang them to me, I picked up the digipak casing and looked at the name: Children Of The Sixth Root Race. I thought it was pretty strange, but it was nice to listen to while I decided which would be the best area of town to rev the car engine in, the area that would be the least likely to hurt anyone else when I crashed the car.
“You know you don’t have to worry / You know you don’t have to fear…”
Wow, those harmonies were really doing it for me. But regardless, I had to fight this momentary happiness from the unexpected lo-fi gospel filling the car, because I had a bunch of misery to kill.
“Come on over / The weather is fine… step into the light…”
And then, the tempo sped up, and before I knew it, I was boppin’ around in the driver’s seat, wondering what the next song would be like. And once the “Yod He Vau He” chorus of “Godmen” had kicked in, my heart was so full of joy, the colors were returning to the trees, and my lungs held breath inside. “How did I feel miserable living on this planet when music this strange and uplifting exists on it?”
I drove around for the entire fifty minutes of the album’s running time. I didn’t know anything about the cultish/communal aspect of the Source. I wasn’t terribly interested in the religious aspects of this disbanded group (and I’m still ultimately not, though I found it to be spiritually interesting). Upon further inspection, I found their spiritual leader/avatar Father Yod to be endlessly fascinating, but not indoctrinating. Wasn’t even all that curious about the fact that Father Yod apparently had 13 wives.
None of that mattered to me. I didn’t need all of those things to be fascinated by this document, recorded in 1973 but unreleased until 2008. What did matter to me was a very simple fact: if I had found myself incredibly uplifted by the sounds and melodies on the lone album by Children Of The Sixth Root Race, I wouldn’t be here today to write this.
The Real Congregation :: It Ain’t Braggin’ If It’s True :: 4/30/13
Marc With a C took a sabbatical for the last episode, but now his batteries are recharged, and he’s ready to delve into his record collection once again. This time around, he’s bringing you a few new releases and more than a few tasty nuggets from the alphabetical journey through his own archives. Dig it!
- You Should Consider Having Sex With A Bearded Man :: The Beards
- Look Out :: Os Mutantes
- Zero Man ::Milk Carton Superstars
- Leave Your Head Alone :: Meat Puppets
- Islands (She Talks In Rainbows) :: Guided By Voices
- Tiger Woods :: Dan Bern
- Now They’ll Sleep :: Belly
- Puttin’ It Down :: Beck
- Soul Sucking Jerk :: Beck
- Sex (I’m a…) :: Berlin
- Funny Little Frog :: Belle & Sebastian
- Co-Coward :: Bettie Serveert
- September Gurls :: Big Star
- Horrible Day :: Frank Black & The Catholics
- Threshold Apprehension :: Black Francis
- So Long, So Long :: Chumbawamba
I always mishear those Edible Arrangements commercials as “Oedipal Arrangements” and get really weirded out about the state of the world