Hospice Chat Excerpts
(Press play and follow along.
Sandy: Is this album instrumental?
Junior: no, it's not instrumental, at least not entirely. I think the beginning and end are
It's a super sad story album, though I don't think it's entirely true (I don't remember exactly)
Sandy: how did you find the album?
Junior: I was a big fan of their album after this one, so I went back to it a few times and it never really stuck until somewhat recently when I heard "Bear" again and just got really into it. It's pretty good for writing to, as well, so i've been listening a lot."Kettering"
Junior: named after the hospital
Sandy: smooth transition
Junior: "those singing morphine alarms / out of tune" that's the kind of stuff that I love on this album. what a great way of thinking about that terrible noise
Sandy: It's very raw. it must have been therapeutic to create this music
Junior: boy, the ending of this is rough. "I didn't believe them / when they told me that there was no saving you"
Sandy: the stages of grief... denial
Junior: This is an interesting song because of how it's all set up. quiet lyrics, big music, very separate
Sandy: the style and the voice remind me of Antony and The Johnsons
Junior: yeah, I hear that. the quavering. it's not always like that, but here it definitely is
Sandy: it fits perfectly
Junior: yeah, for this part of the album it makes a lot of sense... and then it just kinda ends"Sylvia"
Junior: LITERARY REFERENCE ALERT. you know how Sylvia Plath killed herself?
Sandy: yes, the oven.
Junior: here it comes... Here's a song I can relate to. I've had suicidal friends. it's super tough to deal with, and sometimes you just wanna get angry at them. "Sylvia, get your head out of the oven Go back to screaming and cursing. Remind me again how everyone betrayed you Sylvia, get your head out of the covers Let me take your temperature, but you also want to care for them"
Sandy: ...anger, the next stage. have you heard "Jenny", from Nothing More?
Junior: don't think so?
Sandy: it's just as you wrote above
Junior: I'll give it a shot
Sandy: "Maybe you should just fall Leave the world and lose it all And if that's what you need To finally see I'll be with you through it all" tough love
Sandy: yeah... I need some background to this album. what is the relationship between the dying and the one singing?
Junior: Hospice tells the story of a relationship between a hospice worker and a female patient suffering from terminal bone cancer, their ensuing romance, and their slow downward spiral as a result of the woman's traumas, fears, and disease. according to wikipedia. Frontman Peter Silberman has been reluctant to divulge explicit details regarding the meaning of the record, and the extent to which it is autobiographical. Silberman has described it as the story of an emotionally abusive relationship."Atrophy"
Junior: you can hear that on this one a lot. "In your dreams I'm a criminal, horrible, sleeping around While you're awake I'm impossible, constantly letting you down"
Sandy: who's doing the abusing?
Junior: i think she is to him. the patient to the worker
Sandy: ah, that's what I'm getting too. and he takes it, because of his love and her situation?
Sandy: wow, this is painful,
Junior: feels very real
Sandy: yet how amazing it is put into music
Junior: and such good music, too
Sandy: so compelling
Junior: every song feels appropriate, the translation of feeling into sound.
Sandy: he's so powerless. "I'd happily take all those bullets inside you and put them inside of myself."
Junior: this kind of fade out, it's a long one... and into my favorite song. Yeah, tough stuff. and it's sharp. pointy
Sandy: this ending?
Sandy: like fingernails on a chalkboard
Junior: but the words, too. seems like a call for help, maybe a song written inside that situation. these wails that he often ends songs with are interesting. when words don't cut it
Junior: This is happy, at least happier
Sandy: what makes it your favorite?
Junior: it's yet another fantastic capturing of a kind of singular situation. "We're too old, / We're not old at all" plus the music is just the bee's knees
Sandy: old before their time
Junior: the bear metaphor is great too
Sandy: it's like music box, meets jukebox
Junior: "and all the while I know we're CINECAST!ed / and not getting unCINECAST!ed soon"
Sandy: ...and that says it all
Junior: yeah, just a perfect nugget of feeling. love this added part to the chorus, the higher wailing. the whole album has had this kind of quiet LOUD quiet LOUD thing and I think this does it best
Sandy: this has all put me in a very particular mood.
Junior: the horns, the guitar. can you describe it?
...here it sounds like the Doppler affect
Junior: I get that
Sandy: or aliens
Junior: and then some kind of release?
Sandy: like a breath
Junior: yeah, certainly momentary, but beautiful even more for that
Sandy: The album needed this moment... didn't your In Colour
album have some great quiet/loud aspects too?
Junior: yeah, it did. love that dynamic thing
Sandy: you do find great music that shines in that department"Thirteen"
Junior: this one seems to be her perspective. "Pull me out Pull me out Can't you stop this all from happening? Close the doors and keep them out Dig me out Oh, dig me out Couldn't you have kept all this from happening? Dig me out from under our house" that's all the lyrics... and that's it"Two"
Junior: this was the other single. "The choir's going to sing, and this thing is going to kill you" I guess less happy songs have been released as singles, but not many
Sandy: i can't think of any. somehow he can see that her hatred for him, is not about him at all
Sandy: "When I reappeared and tried to give you something for the pain, you came to hating me again and just sang your refrain." He was willing to absorb it, for her sake. That is a deep love
Junior: yeah, where bear used the ursine metaphor, this one uses the song to frame a song about terrible things... and then the fade out again"Shiva"
Junior: the song where she dies doesn't sound like you'd expect. there's a kind of strange rhythm to it
is it like a heartbeat? it's a waltz, isn't it?
Sandy: yeah, a waltz of death
Junior: "my face became yours" more Bergman!
Sandy: he should be in all melancholy art
Junior: "the sensation was scissors and too much to scream, / so instead I just started to laugh" that explains the song. "Wake"
Sandy: like mournful cries, and hymns
Junior: yup. both very solitary and communal at once. very much like a wake
Sandy: nicely said
Junior: "It was easier to lock the doors and kill the phones Than to show my skin Because the hardest thing Is never to repent for someone else It's letting people in"
Sandy: people lost in their thoughts, surrounded by others in the same state (Yes, that's what a wake is like)
Junior: indeed, though this one is more about the after effects than the literal wake, even though it does sound like a wake. "When your helicopter came and tried to lift me out I put its rope around my neck And after that you didn't bother with the airlift or the rescue You knew just what to expect" this next part is the point of the whole thing, I think. "Don't be scared to speak. Don't speak with someone's tooth. Don't bargain when you're weak. Don't take that sharp abuse. Some patients can't be saved But that burden's not on you" Revelatory
Sandy: very much so.
Junior: "don't ever let anyone tell you you deserve that" times like a billion
Sandy: i was just here reading that it might not be about hospice at all, but like you said an abusive relationship and hospice is the metaphor for the dynamics. He never deserved to take on such abuse
Sandy: none of us do. "some patients can't be saved, but that burden's not on you."
Junior: certainly not, though it's never easy to actually stop it
Sandy: no, but this mantra helps. it's not until it gets incorporated internally, where it can be believed This concept of metaphor for an abusive relationship turns the whole thing inside out.
Junior: makes "Bear" into a pretty insidious song, if you take it as the few moments of fleeting happiness inside an abusive relationship. though the feeling at the end of this one makes up for everything
Sandy: it is used to excuse everything else, such as, "remember the great time we had when?..."
Sandy: "shouldn't that happy moment carry us when it's really bad and destructive?" ...this makes my heart ache"Epilogue"
Junior: did you see the alternate titles to all the songs that were in the liner notes?
Sandy: i haven't
Junior: this one is also called "Sylvia Alive in Nightmares" the melody is Bear again
Sandy: it never really ends then. "You're screaming and cursing and angry and hurting me and then smiling and crying and apologizing." and repeat, over and over again.
Junior: this also reminds me of the end of Fanny and Alexander, though it's a spoiler and I'd rather not go into details
Sandy: i'll remember this moment when I ever get to see that film.
Junior: I think this is the only time it's been an acoustic guitar and a voice on the whole album
Sandy: like an echo. a shadow always with him. "just when I think I may have fallen asleep. Your face is up against mine, and I"m too terrified to speak."
Junior: maybe we can read it a little more positively
Sandy: let's do!
Junior: maybe this will keep him from making the same mistakes again, the constant fear of her. I'm not sure htere's anything to support that.
Sandy: i like the idea. healing takes speaking, processing, remembering.
Sandy: i think you're on to something
Junior: Maybe that's the purpose of the whole album. either preparation for people who might go into this situation or him dealing with it after it has happened or something like that.
Sandy: ...sheesh, what did we just experience?! amazing album
Junior: yeah, it's good stuff
Sandy: It's a cautionary tale
Sandy: a clear warning. I know if ever I got into something destructive, I'll remember the words, "don't ever let anyone tell you you deserve that"
Junior: same, hopefully
Sandy: if you forget, I'll tell you!
Junior: and I you!
Sandy: that is the best description of a friend
Junior: i've got two other great songs from them if you'd like to hear them
Junior: as you can see, the got happier after putting this out"Putting the Dog to Sleep"
Sandy: this is happier?
Junior: it is, actually
Sandy: He's being vulnerable
Junior: kind of his MO
Sandy: ah. he's asking to be cared for and then reassures her, he'll do the same
Sandy: it's hard to ask to be cared for. it's easier to express care for another. It's also difficult to express fear of rejection
Junior: it's all hard
Junior: i love the organ (keyboard) on this version. it's a little more synthy on the album
Sandy: it may be that the cause of the hurt is each other in the first place. Can this relationship be saved?
Sandy: He doesn't know either ,but he isn't ruling it out. "I'm not gonna die alone.. I don't think so..."
Junior: this is where the song usually ends on the album, with these oohs. these guys can get pretty big for writing about such small, intimate things
Sandy: like a concert hall, big"Parade"
Junior: and then their happiest song, at least that i've found.
Sandy: You searched far and wide!
Junior: it's about a parade! "we could be an island apart / from a ceaseless war on our heart"
Sandy: a war of their creating?
Junior: I don't think so? a change for them
Sandy: let's hope!
Junior: though the end does seem to suggest some complicity. And I can feel the difference when the day begins Like all I know is, "This year will be the year we win. We smoke the paper from the banner from our past parades And start again, before the memory of the mess we've made"
Sandy: yeah, i'm dubious
Junior: but still, you can rejoice in the victories
Sandy: yes. this line reminds me of Eternal Sunshine... "Erasing horror and disgust. Rewinding the sorrow and the rust. Before our suffering's suffering, hadn't we suffered enough?
Junior: yeah, that definitely tracks... seems like others have read it as the start of a new relationship after two people got out of bad prior relationships, so the Eternal Sunshine thing would make some sense there
Sandy: it was a great chat!
Junior: agreed! i definitely will get more out of it when I listen to it now. thanks to you!
Sandy: thank you! I needed your guidance on what was happening. would you like to hear the song Jenny before you go?
Sandy: there is an acoustic version and a loud version. I'm not sure I'm up for the original one tonight.
Junior: do what feels right to you!
Sandy: could I link the original and play the quieter one here?
Sandy: in this song, Jenny's addictions have completely burned everyone out and has sent her mother to an early grave.
she is an abuser, both in substance and in her relationships.
Sandy: but there is still love expressed to her, tough love. I think everything else had already been tried
Junior: is this also part of a larger narrative?
Sandy: i don't think so, but their album covers a lot of relationship scenarios.
Junior: ah, variations on a theme
Sandy: yeah. this is something colonel_mexico introduced. It would be a great album to discuss here. "Jenny"
Junior: oh wow
Sandy: here is the original song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4x6US_UHvrc#no
Junior: i'll check it out
Sandy: The loud version is fitting for the subject, but sometimes quiet gets a point through in a way noise can't.
Junior: that's very true... that's a rough song
Sandy: yeah. it reminded me of the song on your album
Junior: i feel like we need something super happy to get us out the door, what say you?
Sandy: Yes, we do! I was just thinking the same thing!"Dance Apocalyptic"
Sandy: tell me about the song, where did you find it?
Junior: I've been a huge Janelle Monae fan since the album before the one this is off of, and this was the first single from her latest
Sandy: i don't know her. thanks for the intro!
Junior: now she's an actress and a pretty great one (she was fantastic in Moonlight)
Junior: she's got this whole thing going on in her albums. they're all about a robot in the future who fights for robot rights and is a pop star
Junior: her music is always changing. she's got songs that sound like Prince (who she collaborated with) and MJ and the Beatles and a bunch of soul and jazz influence. she never sounds the same, except she's always super talented
Sandy: ...it worked! The other song is completely washed away!
Sandy: Thank you, Junior for a really great music journey.
Junior: and thank you! It's been a great music night