Not exactly an interview or a review, but full of love

A night that ends with Jon Snodgrass (of Drag the River) singing for you is a very good night indeed. Even better if he is actually singing live for you and not just playing on the old Ipod.

Jon had a quick layover on his way to Memphis to play with Cory Branan (a show that I could not attend, no I don’t want to talk about it, I might cry). [Seriously, we need to find a way to supplement our income so that we can pursue our rock star lifestyle because the day job thing is getting old. What gives, universe?—Daisy] We met up for drinks with a couple other friends. [Which I could not attend. No, I’m not at all bitter, why do you ask?—Daisy] There wasn’t time for a podcast or really even a formal interview but I did learn a few things about Jon, about myself and about the world. Here they are in no particular order:

– Beach towns are apparently great for partying, but not so great for singing mellower, emotionally intense songs. I guess party people only want to party. Who knew?

– Jon commented that all the songs I was requesting he wrote when he was 18. I am emotionally an 18 year old boy, apparently. I guess this explains my intense love of Lucero. [That would explain it. So what’s my excuse?—Daisy]

– There is, out there somewhere, hours and hours of Drag the River video footage from recording sessions. I think of this as my own personal collection of private concerts that are just waiting out there for me to enjoy it. I know Jon et al. are very busy but please to be harassing them so we can all watch this footage!!

– Jon and I share a love of Cory Branan and somehow we both always manage to be completely trashed at the end of Lucero shows.  It’s crazy!!! Like if we didn’t have proof we were both in the same place, then no one believe that aren’t, in fact, the same person. Wait! There is no proof!! Oh no, maybe I am Jon Snodgrass and you just don’t know it. Yet. (Heeeee!! The idea of Jon pretending to be a girl on the internet is incredibly amusing to me.)

– While on my HCT hiatus, among other things, I went to the Lost Sea. Jon is as excited by underground lakes as I am. We both lamented that we never got to go to the Cavern Tavern. I hear that far underground you can drink a lot more and not get as drunk. Just be careful when you go topside!! [What? This sounds completely made up to me.—Daisy]

– I am stupid for not carrying a camera with me all the time. Not only do I not have any pictures of us together (and lack of pictures furthers the rumor that we are the same person), but I was unable to capture the expression Jon’s face as he discovered that the glass he was drinking from at the bar where I work was stamped with “Fort Collins Brewery” on the side. It was totally a coincidence, too, as I wasn’t even present when the bartender poured his beer.

As I write this I am listening to the Cory Branan & Jon Snodgrass split EP and it is AWESOME. For starters it has the best cover ever on an album. Apparently, Jon designed this himself on bar napkin when he was a few cups into the night. It is a thing of beauty. [Also, presumably designed to strike fear into the hearts of their enemies?—Daisy]

I don’t know if listening to the album makes up for missing the Jon & Cory show in Memphis, but it does have the added benefit of immediately available for repeated listenings. [True enough. I listened to it at least four times through today.—Daisy] I told Jon that if wanted to I could write this whole blog as nothing but my emotional responses to albums and how they related to my current romantic disasters. And, hell, I very nearly do this now. The Cory Branan & Jon Snodgrass split EP is no exception.

The album opens with Jon singing “Alone & Distracted,” a song that tugs at me now, as the man who currently holds my hearts is indefinitely seven time zones away. Jon’s voice has this underlying tone to it that just sounds like loneliness to me and is somehow incredibly sexy. [I agree about the sexiness, anyhow—Daisy] That he writes songs that really speak to me just wraps the package up with a nice bow. I am right now just seconds away from writing “I heart Jon” in sparkly pink pen on every surface in my house, so let’s move on to Cory, okay?

Our love of Cory Branan is well documented here at HCT.  This split EP is one more piece of the Cory love puzzle (who also might get his name written everywhere in sparkly pen and surrounded by stars) [Seriously, are we not yet to a ★Cory Branan★ point yet? I think we are.—Daisy]. His first contribution to the album is “The Corner.” This is a song about letting go and moving on (a lesson I should probably be learning). Jon sneaks in and harmonizes throughout the song making it slightly more fantastic. This is classic soft, intense Cory with smart, wordsmith lyrics. It’s a song that is calming, not merely from its softness, but the sound of Jon & Cory’s voices and the guitars and the subject matter just put you in a big fluffy bed on a grey, rainy day and leave you in a place where loneliness feels righteous and almost and not at all like rent torn in your soul.

“Solo in Soho” and “Wild One” come in next. I’m starting to wonder if my own current loneliness is shading my entire perception of this album, or if it really is an unintentional theme here. The guitar playing on “Wild One” speaks exactly to what I want to hear from an acoustic act: it’s rousing and clear and pulls your mood along as much as the lyrics do.

I’m sure every reader of this has heard Cory’s “Walkaround” at some point or another. Half a dozen live bootlegs of it are floating around [on my ipod.—Daisy]. It contains the oft referenced (at least around HCT HQ) lyric, “And any Friday night while you’re sitting here alone / you’ll hear a knock and you’ll open up the door / to the man you are waiting for, just like that I’m sure / and he’ll be holding magic flowers on a golden unicorn.” And even with that, the song isn’t so much about unrealistic expectations, but about making things simple [and maybe a little bit about our tendency to get in our own way sometimes—Daisy]. The song itself changes twice, feeling a little like three songs mashed into one, but somehow it works really well. And once again, Jon backing Cory here makes this version something more fantastic than the many bootlegs and love versions I have heard.

“Born Apart” is the kind of Jon song that makes me think of high, lonesome mountain peaks, winters and whiskey. It is a lament about coming into the world alone and leaving it the same, and yet it isn’t. Maybe I hear more of an admonishment to not take things for granted and to not lie to yourself about what’s really good. Cory backing Jon is fantastic as it comes across almost like a second voice speaking just in your ear, to you alone, driving the message home even more personally.

It seems nearly impossible, given the number of Cory Branan shows I managed to attend and the number of bootlegs I collect while waiting for next album to arrive, that there would be a Cory song I hadn’t heard before, but “Yeah, So What?” might be that song. [I feel like we have heard this before, but maybe only once?—Daisy] I LOVE THIS SONG. It’s got kind of a subtle John Hartford/John Prine/Todd Snider clever stand-off-ishness to it. The lyrics are excellently crafted, the song is upbeat but not overtly silly or bouncy. This is the song that comes up on shuffle when you are doing the dishes and you stop everything and dance around until it’s over. You dance shake your fists with sort of a gleeful punk rock aggression. Perfection! [Yeah, this song is actually that fantastic. It makes me happy in a way that I can’t even pinpoint or explain, other than to say it is made of joy and rainbows.—Daisy]

I know my words, even when I am this spastically excited, aren’t always enough to convince you to get an album. It’s cool, Suburban Home Records has taken care of that. You can stream the album in its entirety to make sure you really do like it before you buy it. And if you want to read some smarter, less spastic thoughts on the EP, there is this fantastic interview with Cory and Jon.  My life is pretty awesome at times.  It’s not just the music, it’s the people and Jon is good people.  I am glad for his albums and the time spent with me. ♥Jon Snodgrass♥

One thought on “Not exactly an interview or a review, but full of love

  1. thanks so much for your in depth thoughts on the jon / cory record. It was such an honor for us to put this out. I feel in love with Cory years ago when I first saw him play and have been trying like hell to put out a record for him. I think the split turned out so great, my only complaint is there are not more songs. Pick up this record and then make sure you check out Jon’s album, “Visitor’s Band”, Cory’s 2 older records, and soon the day I can’t wait for a new Cory Branan album. Thanks HCT for the Jon/Cory love.

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