Forget the Ones

Rosanky's main intersection Texas Escapes photo, April 2010
Rosanky’s main intersection
Texas Escapes photo, April 2010
Will Johnson, in Scorpion, has told an album-length story that seems to me to dramatize the human in a particular time and place but also to have dramatized an aspect of human nature that isn’t bound by those constraints (the where and when of the story). Further, this album has the feel of intimate self-revelation.

I began to detail this in two previous posts (It’s My Nature: Will Johnson’s “Scorpion” and The Golden Beast of Love) and I’ll continue with tracks 2 and 3 on the album, “Rosanky” and “Bloodkin Push (Forget the Ones).”

“Rosanky” is an instrumental track that, coming as it does after the powerful opening track “You Will Be Here, Mine,” asks the listener to prepare to go somewhere, to arrive somewhere, to tether your horse to the hitching post in Rosanky (Texas); is this the “here” where you will be mine?

This musical idea makes sense as the next song, “Bloodkin Push (Forget the Ones),” begins “breath, allow, release/sing a newer hymn.” This creates an even deeper sense that this group of songs are anchored in a sense of place and that place lives in the voice of the songs–we carry place within us; our Place is as much “bloodkin” as our relatives.

Of course, now I want to know who, in the cast of characters the album presents, is the persona of the first track (the “scorpion,” the father, the son, home)?

“Bloodkin” begins with a very melodic opening that makes sense after “Rosanky”…it settles us after that short ride to, where, home?

Bloodkin Push (Forget The Ones)

breathe, allow, release
sing a newer hymn
for newer days
my homeward son
no relent, my homeward son
often you have come
to sit beside me
in silent ways
every now and then…
a twitch, a scrape
adjust to air and silence
of a newer place

and so you tell me of lesser days
such persistent press of bloodkin push
don’t let it hurt
don’t let it cut
don’t let it breathe
just turn away, my homeward son
forget the ones

Above I inserted a visual break in the lyrics because the song itself gives way to a kind of musical disharmony or dissolution that represents something like an ending, aging, dying…only to start again with the lyric. The use of the term “scrape” suggests Eliot’s Prufrock

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

and possibly you hear the scorpion opening a pincer…

I can’t tell if this indicates a father’s advice being taken or ignored. But it is advice–“just turn away, my homeward son/forget the ones.” How does one turn away from the self made of history and place? How does one forget nature’s sting?

And the next song begins “tangled up” and is in the voice of “the son.”

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