May 20, 2022
JR - Bird in a Storm
When we first moved to Carolina in the late 90s, we rented a small house in town near the university, and later moved to a farmhouse at the end of a long gravel road out by the Haw River in the (now-no-more) sticks. Pinned to our refrigerator all those years, no matter which house we lived in, was a hand-printed copy (a gift to my wife from one of her scholarly colleagues) of this quotation by Herman Hesse:
There is no escape. You can't be a vagabond and an artist and still be a solid citizen, a wholesome, upstanding man. You want to get drunk, so you have to accept the hangover. You say yes to the sunlight and pure fantasies, so you have to say yes to the filth and the nausea. Everything is within you, gold and mud, happiness and pain, the laughter of childhood and the apprehension of death. Say yes to everything, shirk nothing. Don't try to lie to yourself. You are not a solid citizen. You are not a Greek. You are not harmonious, or the master of yourself. You are a bird in the storm. Let it storm! Let it drive you! How much have you lied! A thousand times, even in your poems and books, you have played the harmonious man, the wise man, the happy, the enlightened man. In the same way, men attacking in war have played heroes, while their bowels twitched. My God, what a poor ape, what a fencer in the mirror man is- particularly the artist- particularly myself!
Hesse’s exclamations on life continue to haunt and inspire me in unexpected ways to this day. I struggle, like many, to welcome the gold and the mud.
I am a bird in a storm, always have been. Kinda like Jules realizing he is the tyranny of evil men. Maybe kinda like you.
I remember writing this song, “Bird in a Storm,” shortly after moving into our first place, and I still think it’s one of the best songs I’ve ever written. It was certainly one of the first attempts to thinking about another way of songwriting, where, hopefully, less-is-more.
This version is the original recorded circa 1998 at Morrisound by my friend Tom Morris. There’s another version that I did with my pal Spider Mike in Nola that’s floating around the borrowsphere. But this one lays it bare.
Let it storm.
Photo Credit: Josh Victor Rothstein