I must begin by saying that this is one entry I have been especially looking forward to since this blog began. This, ladies and gentlemen, is one of my absolute, all-time favorite Hussalonia recordings. It is a definite pick for a "Leonard Kirke's Personal Mix" compilation album, if one existed. It is also a tie with "Marvin, I Love You" for my all-time favorite robot song.
Every time the music begins on this track I feel totally pulled in to the world of the song. The production, the musicianship here is exceptional in all ways; I'm too unfamiliar with musical terms to know if I'm really applying this phrase correctly, but what comes to mind as soon as I hear it is "wall of sound." Really, it has one of the richest arrangements on the whole album, and one so fine you'd expect it to be reserved for a song sung by a human. Such is Hussalonia's commitment to honoring and bringing out the best of these robot performers. The piano, guitar, and that unforgettable banjo…all of them together are really incredible, really beautiful. It is also, arguably, the most idyllic, peaceful and lushly arranged of all of the robot songs on either of the Hussalonia Robot Singers albums, at least of all that come to mind at the moment.
Now, I like this song so much for its own sake, but there is also, at least in the back of my mind, a personal reason for enjoying it as well. You see, once upon a time, I too wanted to be an owl.
No, I'm not joking, nor have I gone mad. When I was a child, I have a distinct memory of responding to the question of "What do you want to be when you grow up?" with, you guessed it, "An owl."
"OH REALLY?" I hear you say.
I can't recall what was going through my mind when I said this. Owls do eat mice, which I find rather unpleasant, and they do regurgitate fairly often I think, which is also rather unpleasant. Yet they are indeed strangely elegant looking animals. They seem to command respect, yet are aloof and not keen on bothering those who aren't prey. They keep to themselves and appear always alert. They are unique in appearance among birds, with an almost regal yet mysterious way about them.
I suppose that there is just something alluring about them, stemming from all these qualities, that would make one want to be one, and so I assume that is what motivates the robot singer. For the record, these days when I am asked what animal I would like to be, I usually say lemur. More about lemurs when I write about "Dear Hussalonia: Letters from Animals, Mostly Ducks." I would like to add that, ideally, if I'm going to be able to physically transform, I'd most prefer it to be a constant, reversible ability that also allows for multiple forms. That way I'd get to be an owl and a lemur. Reach for the stars, kids. Don't settle or compromise; get exactly what you want, if it is decent, or be happy without it.
The atmosphere in this song is very striking: "Everyone disappears when the sun leaves the sky / hiding from the dark / leaving stars and airplanes to wander the sky / and me to wander the park." I'm drawn in right away. I can almost feel that "cool summer breeze" and hear that "lonesome cricket sound." I can almost smell the way the house smells in summertime. It is incredibly evocative in this very sensory way. The style of the music might be considered country, and the sense of loneliness, freedom, chasing one's dreams out in the open has an almost Old West kind of romance to it.
Really, the robot singer is sad and inspirational all at once. A suit of brown feathers isn't the same thing as actually being an owl, and presumably this is a robot that can't fly. Yet at the same time, what else would we have him do? Give up? He may not be an owl, but he's got a nice brown feather suit, he's got a beautiful, breezy summer evening and a sky filled with lights. All things considered, it doesn't really sound like such a bad place to be. I actually find the scene the song conjures rather peaceful, a bit like a certain beach in South Carolina at night-time is for me.
One thing I find myself wondering nearly every time I listen to this song is exactly what sort of robot is singing. As I mentioned in the previous entry, I tend to assign some sort of specific role or form to the robot personas, if one is not already given, as is the case with the song that is the focus of our next entry. I can't think of what sort of robotic machine would be in a park at night. I suppose it is just your classic humanoid robot; heck, perhaps this one is an autographical song written by the singer himself. I will mention, though, that over time I've envisioned this song's narrator to be some sort of short, squat vacuum-cleaner type of machine, perhaps some kind of outdoor Roomba.
This is another song that I feel is ripe for some sort of visual accompaniment. Of course, there's always the danger, they say, of a visual interpretation of a song or story ruining one's personal vision of it, but usually I am able to ignore an outside visual interpretation of something if I dislike it and return to my own imagination. In this case, I'd love to see some sort of creative music video or something for this song. The setting alone could be worth the effort.
Still, music video musings aside, this song more than stands on its own. It is difficult to listen to it without being reminded of some personal dream, something that may never happen but you keep trying anyway. I've got a number of dreams like that, not just the childhood dream of wanting to be an owl. I take some sort of comfort in this robot, guileless and innocent as he is, doing his best to become what he wants to be. It might be comical, it might be sad, but it is also inspiring in some way. It strikes me as a reminder to never give up, even when one is left alone with a dream, even if there is little or no hope of it coming true; instead, one keeps pressing on. So I applaud this determined, joyous robot, alone in his own, lovely, dreamy little night-time world. So I applaud Hussalonia as well, for bringing me his song.