MP3 Blog #110: “In California”

The Pacific Ocean

Joanna Newsom:

“In California”

“Occident”

“Does Not Suffice (In California, refrain)”

From Have One On Me, buy it on vinyl at Drag City.

*   *   *   *   *

I’ve been a big fan of Joanna Newsom since my friend Bryan brought over an mp3 of her first album one cold Montréal night.  The recording, which he gave me, was of a radio program in Ohio where the DJ had decided to spend most of his show playing the entire Milk-Eyed Mender album.  For a few months, I played that mp3 regularly, until one day I finally got tired of hearing the same announcements over a few songs and just got an official copy of the album.

In late-February and most of March of this year, soon after her new album Have One On Me came out, my copy of it was constantly on my turntable.  In the intervening months between then and now, I would occasionally take it out to listen to one or two of the three records, but it hasn’t been until the last few weeks – with their particular autumnal air – that it returned to my regular listening rotation.

A few comments on the songs in this post:

In California is probably one of my favorite songs that directly addresses, what is currently, my home state.  There’s a certain sense of anxiety and awe-inspired longing that I feel most other songs on the subject miss.

I’m not entirely what Occident means to Joanna Newsom, but for me it’s pretty clearly about the great waiting that we all go through.

The last song on the album Does Not Suffice, on the other hand, is as direct a song as one will find in her catalog – a heart-breaking capture of final moments of a relationship.  Oh, and that final bit of increasing reverberation on her voice at the end, when she’s finally run out of words, almost always gets to me.

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