Cabin crew, prepare for landing! Gliding through low altitudes, Bill Callahan has set his sites on the run- way. It is 2013 and he's ready to land again, with a full cargo for the people down below on earth. From way up high, everything looks so small. But then you land and it swallows you whole. You disappear into the little models, and the trains keep rolling by. And the lights go on and off again. And the trucks on the highway, bound for parts unknown.
In the song-world of Bill Callahan, the present reali- ties tumble ecstatically like cloth in the wind "” sheets and flags and clothes. These things borne aloft are not simply physical details in the landscape, but the con- tours of an emotional one as well. Bill's a cartographer way out there, tracing the coastlines, telling the tales he has discovered along the way. Some seen in life and others in mind's eye, they float down Dream River with humble eminence.
The river that was once deemed not too much to love, that once freed convicts and their guard in a still and silent moment, is now a Dream River, fished in a variety of depths, viewed in panorama. This is a waterway that winds across the landmass, a ribbon that touches and changes and feeds and gives to and takes from many lives as it rolls to the ocean. Bill and the beaver alike are riding high on this Dream River.
Lyrically, Bill tugs at the loose strands of a scene and unspools 'em until he comes to the knot. Or if he's out of doors, he ruffles through the chaff that makes up the haystack, looking for something hard and sharp. The days of the all-needle haystack are gone, but Bill still finds something that gets beneath the skin, even when surveying moments of easy contentment. He pans out to a long shot to give us perspective"”and driftin g, finds another set of circumstances to regard. The subjects shift conversationally, like a kaleidoscope, revolving out from a tiny glinting detail reflected in windows we look through every day, windows that aren't even there to be- gin with. The plainspoken flies with the poetic in these songs, along with the sudden jolt of something you re- member: we call it laughter.
In this passage, many stories are told.
Dialed into the mindset, the Dream River instrumen- tal crew man a hovercraft that bears the songs along, humming deeply with bass and percolating with the abiding resonance of hands drumming on skins, the live- ly popping of claves. Guitar strums fan into blooms of smoke, sliced through by other guitars taking other forms"”shards of mirrors, plumes of ignition, telephone wires, snakes and ladders plunging through the depths of the sky. The musical modes are exquisite, aquatic; shifting in delicate but deliberate undetectable time as Bill's lyrics wander from yard to yard.
RIDE MY ARROW
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