Well, it’s still winter. It’s right around this time of year–the no-man’s land between the start of the new year and the first signs of spring–that I start to get restless. What I would not give for a summer night around a campfire right about now.
For now, Califone’s “Wingbone” will have to do. On a recent blustery night behind the keyboard, the song rotated into my listening session via the scatterbrain full-library-shuffle that is my work soundtrack. It’s been a good few years since I last thought of the band. Truth be told, I know little about them to this day and don’t remember much caring for Heron King Blues when I first heard it almost a decade(!) ago.
In retrospect it seems like a dismissal based purely on age. I was not yet ready for quiet music. But hearing “Wingbone” creak in through my headphones on a winter night this year was something of a revelation. It’s a sparse-but-jagged acoustic ballad that is evocative of a particular kind of feeling that you only recognize when it hits you. For four minutes, I was someplace else completely–my favorite hiking spots in the mountains of New Hampshire, under the open sky of the Arizona Desert. It was a fleeting moment of escapism that serendipitously came at just the right moment. The kind of moment that you listen to music for in the first place, in fact.
All of this is to say nothing of “Wingbone’s” utterly cryptic lyrics. A small taste:
fill my belly with your whispering
some barely on the thread
water sworn and cotton fire
cold light swallowing your song
newborn legs let the constellations drop
crack your scorn water your grave
only when you’re half erased
forget your lines
bed of nails sharpening the edges of your grace
I’ve always considered myself a lyrics guy–if they’re bad, I’m instantly done with a song. The lyrics of “Wingbone” are something else entirely and have become something of an obsession for me. I keep replaying the song trying to get a handle on them… but they remain beautifully elusive. It all adds to the ethereal feeling of the song. “Wingbone” is a perfectly crafted tone poem that just keeps getting richer with each listen. A+.
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