Friday, December 12

One Track Mind: St. Lawrence River

Lee Mellor is on eMusic's list of non-American Country artists (He's Canadian by birth). The cover of his 2007 album, Ghost Town Heart, is a moodily-lit portrait of him looking scruffy and tired and shaggy and all dressed in black, like a city dude's impression of what a country singer should look like. He's got a slightly nasal voice, a strong understanding of the tropes and patterns of alt-country, and enough Canadianness in his lyrics that I feel a connection to him I probably shouldn't.  Case in point: the song St. Lawrence River. It's a catchy ballad about bad choices and redemption that could have been set anywhere with a few minor lyrics changes. I've never seen the St. Lawrence; I can find it on a map, to be sure, and I know what it is and why it's important economically and historically and culturally, but it's not home in any meaningful sense of that word.  And yet, listening to Lee, I feel like nodding. You will too - but whether it's a feeling of shared experience, or just moving in time to a really catchy piece of alt-country, is up to you.


Fraxas said...

Lyrics, transcribed by me, for reference:

My daddy told me
there was something I oughta
see when I was just
twelve years old

He took me down
to the brown, murky water
tackle box jangling
and tangle fishing poles

He said, "see the salmon
jumping up creek?"
the strong ones move on
the lake takes the weak

To that old St. Lawrence River
shining like a necklace
sun like gold and silver
down a collarbone of hill

Son, you've got to do your best 'cause
life is here to test us
when hope thins to a sliver
you got to dam it with your will

And the next day he went off
to fight in the desert
came back a shape, draped
'neath a Canadian flag

Then the money got bad, so
This lad he got desperate
walked into the bank with
a mask and a duffel bag

that off-duty cop
sure came out of the blue
now I got me a room
with a five-year view

of that old St. Lawrence River
shining like a necklace
sun like gold and silver
down a collarbone of hill

wrote my dreams out on a checklist
I'm done with being reckless
I only got a little time
and a lot left to fulfil

Fight the current that
was the wrong thing to say
life is giving up
and letting it carry you away

Now I'm out of prison
I work in the scrapyard
all that I want is
my own set of wheels

And ain't it ironic
that I got to work so hard
beneath the clangs of
dreams and automobiles

when that cheque comes in
in seven more days
I'm taking my car
another way

down that old st. lawrence river
shining like a necklace
sun like gold and silver
down a collarbone of hill

I spent too long down southwest, yes
sir, I'm a getting restless
to see the great Atlantic
where all that water spills

down that old st. lawrence river...

Pharaohmagnetic said...

At first I thought were going to write about that other song called "St. Lawrence River," by another Canadian artist, David Usher. It's also a good song.

We must be living in a new golden age of Canadian Music. I was recommending picks to a friend the other day, and here's what I said: Bedouin Soundclash, Arcade Fire, Stars, Great Lake Swimmers, the New Pornographers, and the Rural Alberta Advantage. Only afterwards did I realize, holy mackinaw! Those are all Canadian bands. I will now add Lee Mellor to the list.

P.S. I'm really liking Track 8, Bar Mirror.