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Friday, February 4, 2011

Hussalonia Song # 12: There’s No Such Place As Home

Ah, once again, it has been far too long since I've added an entry to this lovely little blog. In fact, this is the longest gap yet between entries since this blog began. I hope you can forgive me for my lack of focus. However, I make no promises towards improvement in that regard. Whatever happens happens, isn't that the way it works? I make no promises.

Hussalonia's one-release-a-month project for 2010 seems to have ended just two months short of the goal. The final two entries were one song each, but they were excellent enough in quality to make up for a lack of quantity. The final release of the year, "Through With Music," is a song I've listened to repeatedly over the last few months and one I've dreamed of making a movie of just to use it as an ending theme (making music videos and musical segments in movies is something I do frequently, if not constantly, when I listen to music I really enjoy, so don't be surprised if I mention that again) though I must confess I worry that the song might be autobiographical. I certainly hope that Hussalonia isn't really through with music; I've dealt with the retirement of several artists I've enjoyed over the last few years (including the retirement of the band The White Stripes announced the morning of February 2nd, including a statement that their music "now belongs to you," which frankly outside the context of dedicating work to the public domain I do not understand at all) and though I always try to meet the end of an artists' output philosophically, I can never quite shake the feeling of being bummed out about it, either. Still, if this is the end of Hussalonia's creative output, then I must take a moment and give proper thanks once again for all of the incredible music created over the years, and also I must mention the volume of it released entirely free of charge and further still the songs kindly dedicated to the public domain. My gratitude for Hussalonia's efforts is what this blog is all about, after all, even if I do neglect updating it for far too long. Whatever the future may hold, I thank you, Hussalonia.

One last note: As mentioned in Hussalonia's own News section on the Hussalonia website, a filmmaker named Stephen Aymond is creating a film inspired by Hussalonia's album "The Somewhat Surprising Return of The Hussalonia Robot Singers" titled, fittingly enough, "The Somewhat Surprising Return of John's Computer." Hussalonia's website links to a couple of his previous Hussalonia-based projects, and on this website: http://www.indiegogo.com/stephenaymond you can donate to his 2,000 dollar goal of financing for his film. It sounds like an excellent film, and the description reminds me of "The Brave Little Toaster," an animated film that I love. If you aren't currently low on disposable income as I am, please consider contributing to his efforts.

Now, on to this entry's song:

The home is where the heart is, that's what they say. Yet if this song is correct, and there's no such place as home, then what is in the heart? I've already confused myself.

This may sound rather dense and nonsensical, but I've long felt a strange sensitivity to time and place. It is rather difficult to define, but there is a particular experience that I think serves as the prime example of this. A close friend of mine, who experiences this same odd sense of time and space, calls it "the space-time phenomenon." It is, in short, the experience of being in a place where many people have just been but have not vacated. It is standing on a football field after the players and crowd have gone home after a game, or the empty gymnasium after the school dance is over, the theater after the end if the concert. These moments are the kind which proves most striking, but that strange sensation of time and place, of change, of ethereality, can happen in many situations.

I can recall the lobby of the student center where I struggled with staying awake as I arrived at 5 AM and waited four hours for classes to begin. I can recall it then, cold, in fall and winter, empty except for the few employees going around setting things up for the day, taking the covers off of the pool tables, turning on the TVs playing infomercials. I see one that I watched one other early morning months earlier, taking a break from a marathon editing session for a short film my friends and I created. That was just before I began at this new college. I can recall being at the old one; I can recall meetings with the class adviser who died earlier that year of a heart attack. I can recall sitting in that same area with one of my friends, checking email on one of the public computers and discovering that our short film was accepted into a film festival. Everything flashes forward; that friend has switched colleges as well, and once again I'm alone there at the end of a spring day, feeling aimless. Flash forward again, I rarely go into that building anymore, and I still feel aimless.

In the backyard of the house where I grew up I can recall playing outside as a child with friends who have since drifted away. I can remember reading "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac on the driveway and the cat that showed up and died under the porch, having snuck in there just before we went on vacation. I remember getting the mail in the front yard not long ago.

It feels, to use the old expression, like one never steps into the same river twice. Some places retain more of the same aura longer and more strongly than others; my great-grandparents' house, where I spent many days of my early childhood watching cartoons, feels like they never left. The ceramic owls are still over the same stove. The "Bless This House" sign still hangs over the cabinet. I last stopped by on my way home from college classes out of town, and when I went inside Barack Obama was on the news, after being signed into office on the television as I watched from the student center earlier that day. Hope and change was everywhere. In that house I found myself sucked into the past, into days of old lang syne, and it still smelled the same in there, underneath the cigarette smoke.

A place changes gradually and one doesn't notice until well after the fact, and when I notice such changes myself, when I reflect back on the then and now, the here and there, I feel overwhelmed, I feel dizzy.

I don't know if there is no such place as home; I'm inclined to think there is, but that places are consistent than they feel at any given moment. They say you can't go back again, but I wouldn't know.

The song, in any case, is another gem from "Ernest Evans Hussalonia." Much like "Everything and Its Opposite At Once," it packs a really huge punch in a very short time, with vocals that soar before you've even gotten used to seeing them on the ground. "Hold me down" is the request. The desire for someplace solid and for someone steady comes through in this song, a sense of helplessness and willingness to be led, but not without reservations that even outside guidance will really lead anywhere. Tom Waits once sang in "Anywhere I Lay My Head" that "Anywhere I lay my head, I'll call my home." That's food for thought, a possible alternative to this song's idea. Perhaps it is all relative. Perhaps, as in so much of philosophy, it is just a matter of words needing clearer definitions.

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