A blog by Christine Hughes
I see a lot of imagery in song. I almost feel as though Kristin Hersh’s songs are celestial in nature that they’ve come from some otherworldly place. I sense imagery and color in them that root them down here on earth, and merge together what she’s created into who I am and make them my own.
When I hear the songs I don’t necessarily listen to what the words are saying, I feel what they offer. I create landscapes in my mind upon which the songs happen. It makes for a wonderful experience.
The most vivid album for me is ‘The Grotto.’ It’s a dark as midnight album, not dark as gloomy or threatening, but dark as night. A comfortable, safe darkness. I have always seen a house in this album, it’s where those stories happen. It’s an old dark brown shingled house with dormer windows and a big ole porch out front. On that porch there’s an old swing, with creaky chains and flaked, worn paint.
The night is clear, the stars distinct. It’s comfortable to be outside, I always imagine it as a cool summer night. Warm, but with a slight night chill. Here on the porch swing we hear the story of “Sno Cat,” which happens in the winter. It offers a nice contrast. I’m always attracted to contrasts. All those ‘Grotto’ songs happen here at the house. They’re like stories told by trusted relatives, they’re not always nice, they’re not always happy, but it’s so beautiful here and the stories so real that it makes it all okay.
I don’t know what the inside of the house looks like, these songs tell their stories out here, with the landscape. Surrounding the house is low brush upon small hills. Trees are in the distance but they don’t envelope this house. It’s quiet here, and we hear the night bugs in the tall grass. There are no mosquitos, because this is my story and I’m keeping it nice.
There’s a dirt path off to the left of the house, which winds through brush toward the trees. It’s moonlit to a point, just enough to see where you’re going as the small stones crunch beneath your feet. It brings a lightness to the darkness around. The dirt shifts and moves as you step, while “Vitamins V” swirls around. It is safe here, magnificent. I could walk this path for hours, gliding almost.
As day follows night, ‘Sky Motel’ follows ‘The Grotto.’ I always, always feel like listening to ‘Sky Motel’ after ‘The Grotto.’ They’re a contrast of sorts and that’s probably why. The Grotto is dark brown and indigo, ‘Sky Motel’ a sky blue and yellow. It’s a daytime record. Where ‘The Grotto’ offers dark comfort, ‘Sky Motel’ brings bright promise of a new day.
I always imagine tearing down the highway as this album plays. It’s got a much faster pace than ‘The Grotto’ but it’s supposed to. Noon is not supposed to be as slow as midnight. The sparse white clouds stand out against the blueness of a summer sky. Yellow wildflowers line the road, popping out from the surrounding green. Where ‘The Grotto’ colors are soft and blending, the ‘Sky Motel’ colors are distinct, separate. They pop. Like life.
We’re sprung out into the world, away from our safe place, but it’s okay because it’s beautiful and sunny and alive. We have our foundation out in the world and have this new day upon which to build on these other stories that happen here. The night bug sounds on ‘Sky Motel’ remind us of the comfort we just came from at ‘The Grotto.’ A reminder that we’re still okay, and to not forget where we came from.
Sereneness of night, fluidity of day. Now I can be balancing.