This month on Homegrown Radio: Carrie Bradley of Ed’s Redeeming Qualities, the Buckets, 100 Watt Smile, Granfaloon Bus, Red House Painters, John Wesley Harding, the Breeders & the Great Auk (& probably more)! Without going into a full discography, you can find Carrie’s singing & playing on all the Ed’s Redeeming Qualities releases, the Bucket’s debut album & their album Silo, 100 Watt Smile’s self-titled album & on individual tracks direct from the Great Auk, & you can hear her great violin on the Breeders' albums Pod & Last Splash. To say that Carrie Bradley is an extraordinarily talented musician & songwriter would be an under-statement. But enough from me: here’s what Carrie has to say about “The Finder of the Owl,” her lead-off song:
Not to put too fine a point on it, “the Finder of the Owl” is about identity. Pointy, pointy identity.
It's the first song I wrote (this summer) after a long hiatus of a couple years plus, and while I felt rusty, the song applied a touch of Brillo to me. It was inspired by a true-life story: a few months before, I was riding in a chairlift at the ski hill, lookin' at the pines covered with fresh robes of snow and was suddenly awash with desire to see an owl. I've never seen one live, in the wild, and as they are famously elusive, and watchful (and, in their cartoon form, inquisitive) as well as creatures of the night...it seemed a metaphorical moment. I don't know if it's a symptom of middle age or an ageless mystery to wonder at the conundrum of how we are told on the one hand that nothing we are seeking will come to us until we relax and stop looking for it but then on the other hand we hear that we won't get what we want unless we get out there and go after it...
The desire to see through the murk and pick out the magic, to find a recognizable nugget of significance, feathered or otherwise, in Rorschachian landscapes of mind or mountainside, seems an apt enough description of both a search for self and the artist's way. But, per the conundrum above, it may require a lack of desire, waiting but not wanting...does wanting to be the finder of the owl define the process or do we need to find the damn owl? I can never seem to leave ambiguity as a subject, even if it results in corny jokes: "You know who." "You know who?" "Woo! Woo!"
The capacity to do so (see "murk, magic" above) seems likely sown during childhood, which I think explains why the song turns to images from "Hey Diddle Diddle" and barn as a kind of (cozy) womb. (There will be an inkblot test and a pop quiz on nursery rhymes following the song.)
Lastly, I see, although it was entirely accident, that the lyrics "read" like a Woody Allen screen play (have you ever? the most common line is a stage direction: "[overlapping]"). I wonder if I could do a whole concept album like that...
I am envious of Earl Butter and Sister Exister's talents with the multitracks. I used to know my way around those, but after the sound card in my computer died (McClassic glass-of-water incident), I lost track. I have used nothing but an iPhone to record the last three songs I wrote, this one included. This one is merely on the memo app that comes with the phone; I also use a $6 field-recording app called FiRe that I can recommend with enthusiasm, but that requires WiFi to share, and I don't have that in the pines. I like the low-fi quality here, but would like to fill the song out; the oooo's in the intro will some day be theremin, once I buy it and learn it (another midlife desire). Maybe for this series, I will attempt to multiply tracks each week...next week: TWO!
thanks, Homegrown Radio!
Thank you, Carrie! Enjoy!