Tuesday, December 30, 2008

velveteen rabbit and the skin horses

I am getting restless to start a band. I don't know if it's possible, mostly because this band would be a whole new animal. It's a convergence of old and new music, but wild and wraspy and unspecifically rusted. I'd need to find people who dab in everything, and love it all. But locating musicians (who aren't already in bands) and play music from the civil war and yet, also own the new Ryan Adam's album aren't exactly common in towns with populations of 641. Or maybe they are and I just haven't pulled away enough of the carpet to get to the real hardwood floors yet. I've said it before, I am often wrong.

In my mind, we cover modern pop or indie music with old time instruments. Instead of a drum kit and electric guitars we have a stand up bass, fiddle, banjo, guitar and a mandolin. I'd call us Velveteen Rabbit and the Skin Horses, mostly because I adore that old book, and it's one of those stories that has become a mantra here at the farm. The point of the Velveteen Rabbit (something you may not have read in a long time, so don't be offended by the summary) is to believe so strongly a thing can happen, that it does. Which is all Cold Antler Farm is right now.

It's a place, sure, but it's more of a dream. This small rented homestead is just the first hit to a long life of messy-rural addiction. It's the first chapter in a girl's book that needs to be bound together in lanolin, and quilts, violin strings and bailing wire to be read correctly. I don't own this farm. I don't know what it's like to really own anything. The bank and I even still share my subaru... But someday, somehow, this toy farm will become real. I'll own something. And when those first farm raised lambs's hooves hit the ground it'll mean so much to me. It will swallow everything, like distance*. There is just no turning back at this point. I need it more than I could possibly explain. You know, I have always looked up to the skin horse.

So anyway, me and skin horses, we'd write our own tunes, but also recreate new ones. We'd lasso up these modern techno and pop hits and bring them back down to the ground, cover them with brick and soil. Things like a Madonna's Like a Prayer with banjo, fiddle, and shape note singing instead of that gospel choir, yes! Or more recent songs, like beautiful Iron and Wine tunes or the Postal service. We'd play Dylan, and Cash, and the Beatles, and songs people hummed to stay awake durring the battle of Cold Harbor (Well, you'd hum them if you were Southern anyway, since all the Northern boys couldn't hum much of anying since they were pretty much all dead. Way to go Grant...)

And we'd sing little sweet songs, like Tegan and Sara's Call it Off, which I can't help but wish I had some scruffy guy to sing that with every time I sing it in my car. Just a guitar and my fiddle and our voices. I think I'll make that my birthday present. I want to be at a campfire somewhere this July with someone who wants to sing Call if Off as if it was written in 1863 and not 2007. I'm not asking for true love, I'm not even asking for a date, just a guy who wants to play that song by a fire in the Vermont woods. Let's get on that, Universe. I don't ask for much, but that would be fall-down-the-stairs good.

Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive.

But the Skin Horse only smiled.

*Neruda. Read the song of despair, son!


Blogger Moon said...

Why, oh why, hasn't a farm-loving, acoustic instrument-playing, scruffy-voiced guy with a good heart and a desire for a like-minded mate scooped you up yet, my dear? You're the gem among so many glass beads.

December 31, 2008 at 12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always loved the lesson in that book. I promise- if my husband and I ever move North I'll learn an instrument just to join your band!

January 1, 2009 at 12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your band sounds like the best band ever. I myself am a banjo enthusiast but don't know how to play -- last year a friend of mine and I joked about starting a band called The Kitty Cat Bandit Band (KCB being my nickname born at Bonnaroo '07) comprised of a banjo and spoons. Alas, until I learn to play, the KCB Band is just a dream.

Speaking of banjos, check out William Elliot Whitmore's music. He's an Iowa native (like me) and will break your heart. He's not too shabby to look at, either.

January 6, 2009 at 12:48 PM  
Blogger Dark Spice said...

"The Velveteen Rabbit" is one of my favorite books. When I was little, though, my favorite books were about a cat named Mudpie. I think they were by Guy Gilchrist. IDK what happened to them, but I'm sad that they disappeared.

August 7, 2009 at 10:56 PM  

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