Monday, June 20, 2011

Good Intentions Paving Company… How Do you Stitch a song?

Tell me if you know. I can’t stop listening to this astonishing song recommended by my brilliant friend Joe in Brooklyn, an amazing, musical man with ranging, eclectic taste. How did he know I would love it so much? Lucky me for having friends like this. Sometimes you are just fortunate for no good reason.

“Good Intentions Paving Company,” by Joanna Newsom is the most beautiful, weird, raw, surprising song I’ve heard in a long time. And yet, I recognize that it might me hugely annoying to other people.

And, although I can’t see when I listen because the tears almost instantly blur my vision (the song is so beautiful and “mysterious” as Joe described it), I’m moved to try to stitch it, the beautiful lyrics and the strange, fluttering, surprising vocalizing, the changing tempos, the moods.

It feels like a layered tapestry, this song. It makes me feel like something cracked open inside me. And I didn’t know that I could crack open any more. I’m going to be nothing but a pile of shards at the end of my short existence. How to stitch these layered emotions… No clue, but I will try.

I think Newsom, this artist (at least as far a this song goes) lives in such a crazy, free, open, honesty and fearlessness. And I know that I can (as much as anyone who supports herself by working for a corporation) live in this kind of honesty… I always have, often to my own detriment. But to live in this kind of fearlessness to say and create whatever I can possibly imagine… I want to be in that place in my life. I crave it. I’m not there, now. But, I am getting closer by inches…

My favorite line, squeaked out in a scary high register without any apologies on her part, is:

“And am in love with the hook
Upon which everyone hangs”

When you’re in love with the thing holding us all up and it is not defined… it is a hard way to live.


  1. She reminds me a little of Kate Bush, and Joni Mitchell.

    I've done a series of mixed media ATCs based on favorite songs. My "technique" was to focus on a particular lyric and try to illustrate it, sometimes literally and sometimes more figuratively.

    You can read about it here:

    Of course, it's not perfect. I've yet to figure out how to embroider "For your sake I hope heaven and hell / are really there, but I wouldn't hold my breath / you wasted life, why wouldn't you waste death."

  2. Oops, wrong address.

  3. So inspiring!! Thanks for sending me this link. I love the idea of stitching a song on this ATC scale. Girl, seriously cool stitching. Thanks!So generous of you to give me the idea for this potential approach. I love it.

    And, damn, when you figure out how to stitch the Modest Mouse lyric (one of my crazy, all time favorites) please email me because I would love to see it. REALLY.

  4. I also love Joanna Newsom! I embroidered the lines from her song "Sadie"from the Milk-Eyed Mender album, years ago...

    "Down by the river with the milk-eyed mender
    You, and me, and a love so tender
    Stretched in a hoop where I stitched this adage:
    Bless this house and its heart so savage..."

    her lyrics are a treasure house of poetry.
    Best wishes, hugs, XX Nat