1. Hammer and Nails
"I recorded this music in fits and starts in February and October of 1998. Some songs, like 'Mailbox' and 'Speak Louder Than', were written on-the-fly in the studio. A couple 'The Way Some People Die' and 'Funeral Song' have been around for years. 'Way Some...' started life much as it appears here, before we recorded it on the first Yo La Tengo album, and 'Funeral Song' was this folk song before we ever started recording Walk to Delphi. It's got lyrics based on a poem by Emily Dickinson, a muse of sorts.
'Hammer and Nails' is a little bit about Townes van Zandt and a little bit about a dear old friend. I started writing it while we were doing some shows with Townes in Germany in the winter of '96. It was the first time I had met him and and in some way it really moved me. And then he died a month later.
Ragle Gumm was a character in a Phillip K. Dick novel called Time Out of Joint. He doesn't have a firm hold on reality, but then who does in PKD's world? I wrote 'Dusty Sun' four years ago in Oldenburg, and the sky was still light late into the night. There was a stand-in for the northern lights - a carnival was in town, the perfect breeding ground of melancholy.
The melody of 'Lambent Lullaby' (and I suppose of 'Mailbox' as well) was kindled by a dissonance at the beginning of Peter Blegvad's Just Woke Up."
01 june 04