Wednesday, November 27, 2013

“Thanksgiving” by Stephen Kellogg – A Song Review

     We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, regardless of country of residence.

     Although it’s not as risky as when artists were far more dependent upon radio exposure to make a living from their music, it is still a risk to put energy into generating a ten-minute song. Most music consumers are like us – short attention-span listeners. But there are always those few songs that break through the barrier. Music historians give credit to The Doors’ “Light My Fire” (1967) as being the first. The song by The Doors was “only” seven-minutes long, but the demand for the uncut version forced radio stations to reconsider commercial scheduling in order to maintain their market share of listeners. As songs got even longer (Iron Butterfly’s seventeen minute “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” in 1968), commercial stations had no choice but to either crop the songs or ignore them. As a consequence, a viable listening audience surfaced for the “underground” stations.

     Fast forward to 2013 - Stephen Kellogg releases a ten-minute song entitled “Thanksgiving.” Kellogg was born in Pennsylvania, was a member of the Sixers (the band, not the basketball team), and now lives in Northampton, Massachusetts. “Thanksgiving” is part of a solo effort.
     “Thanksgiving” can be broken down into segments, but we aren’t sure if we have it right. Still, when it comes to lyrical poetry, it doesn’t matter if you are hearing what the songwriter originally intended. All that matters is that the song speaks…         Yes, "Thanksgiving" speaks.
      Two easily identified segments are defined by the church-like choir at the start and end of the song. Between the choir segments, Kellogg tells his story. The lyrics are pasted below. There is a setup to the story, with the story starting after the statement:
"A melody, floating just within your grasp, it goes…"
     The longest segment follows. The story starts with a statement of the appreciation for Thanksgiving, especially as a boy. The boy grows, meets a woman, marries her, and has children. Initially, the wife functions as his axis. But the relationship ends in an ugly divorce.
      Today, he has perspective. He doesn’t feel shame regarding the past, but he knows he was the cause of his current situation. Then, there is a John Lennon “Imagine” segment that leads to the church-like ending segment.
Currently, Stephen Kellogg is permitting free downloads.

The Lyrics of “Thanksgiving:”
The Choir:
Oh Thanksgiving, the harvest draws to a close
Pride of man will swallow him, for he reaps what he sows
Oh living, it’s harder every day
Only in the darkness can you see you’ve lost your way

Stephen Kellogg:
I recollect the Rose of Sharon had come back again
The trees were blowing in the breeze all high above my head
When a cavalcade of memories appeared to me in words I wished I’d said.

From that point on a song stayed in my thoughts most of the time
But when I tried to sing it out loud it would always leave my mind
Like the things you know are true, but never can explain when you get asked.

A melody, floating just within your grasp, it goes…

When I was a child, I always remember
The way I would feel, 4th Thursday November
My uncles would play, there would be music
And I was taking it in.

Only much later, I noticed the drinking
The feeling my family was growing and sinking
St. Petersburg Palace stain glass in sun
They were well on their way I had only begun.

So boy meets a girl, Venus and Adonis
Friendship on fire, adulthood upon us
They teach you to fly, then spend all of their time
Standing over you, clipping your wings.

Where there was a me, there could be an us
I dreamt about money, she talked about trust
She is my axis, death is by foxes
And we were well on our way.

In America, this is home
Stories, everybody’s got one
This is mine, you will have your own
Nothing like the real thing, nothing like it.

Cleaner than Christmas or our wedding day
I knew her father was pissed, though he wouldn’t say it
I would be too and someday I will be
No kid could be good enough.

Taking on Sunday, taking on owls
Catching a glimpse of the wolf as it howls
Got a lot of nice things, got a really nice house
Done is so beautiful.

On Father’s Day, I’m thinking of mothers
I can only suppose they’re thinking of others
Insurance is up, it came in the mail
Yeah it kills me what they’re charging for little white pills.

I blow through the years like a mother defending its own
And I fear, I’m driving on spare tires
Seems like I’ll never get home, like I’ll never get home
Like I’m getting threadbare.

I can’t find my way, she showed me the map
I still can’t believe I acted like that
Just follow your heart up past most of the brain
If you get lost at reason, move down past pain.

I’ll see you in court, bring your raincoat
I’m keeping the kids, I’m keeping the house
It takes minutes to make us a baby
And years to remember what that was about.

America, this is home
Stories, everybody’s got one
When we die what will we have done?
Nothing like the real thing, nothing like it.

It’s snowing in April, something’s changing in me
That’s the sound of a heart getting clean, baby
I traded in booze for loads of caffeine
And my friends they traded in me.

Another Thanksgiving and I’m all alone
My favorite holiday and nobody’s home
No shame in the past, no pride in the future
I know, believe me I know.

Those years we spent talking, learning to agree
The truth is I’m just thankful you tolerated me
There’s so many thorns, not enough roses
My girls as they sleep, the eye as it closes.

This year for Thanksgiving I’m keeping my list short
No one gets married, no one gets divorced
Can you imagine?
What if the world could stand still for even a day?

If there was no crime, no rape and no killing
Addictions suspended, no cutting or drilling
If everyone took the day off and hung out with their friends
Their favorite friends.

I know what you’re saying, it’s not realistic
I’ve heard it my whole life, look at the statistics
But lucky for us, I’m not a guy that gives up
I never give up, ‘cause I go…

The Choir:
Oh Thanksgiving, the harvest draws to a close
Redemption is a bugle humility composed
Sweet forgiveness, thawing across frozen ground
Casting light eternally, carrying its sound.

4 comments:

  1. This song is absolutely AMAZING!!!! It gives me chills every time I hear it. I love this song!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't believe it ends in divorce...it says it take years for us to remember what that was about (the fight). They are still married.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I’ll see you in court, bring your raincoat
      I’m keeping the kids, I’m keeping the house
      It takes minutes to make us a baby
      And years to remember what that was about.

      Delete
  3. It's especially moving live. He is so talented. As far as i know he is still married to her. Go to a show if you can. Thanks for a Beautiful review.

    ReplyDelete