“Superb…beautiful…brilliant…” ~ Steve Ruff/DownTheLineZine
~ DOLOROSA ~
You have here 12 songs plus 4 bonus tracks. Full band. Over an hour. (And that’s not counting the 4 bonus tracks.) Definitely an “Autumn record.” Dolorosa is a “big” record for me. I think it’s album number 57. (Honest.)
The SongStoryMusicMeaningReality is an absolute obsession for me.
“She”(the album) is reflective, melancholic, but sober, sturdy & strong. An Autumnal venture, to be sure.
The album is over an hour long.
Lots to listen to and think about. A lot to digest, folks.
I know we live in an attention challenged culture. But, I’ve got some brilliant fans who still listen to music as if it mattered.
I am always been deeply appreciative of your attentive ear to the music & lyrics.
I won’t let you down. Promise.
Maybe it’s my way of saying “Kilroy was here.” Painted on a crumbling vacant church’s steeple.
“As simple as it sounds, it’s still true: You get comfortable being who you are…and you make peace with who you aren’t.” ~ bill mallonee
This album draws it’s bearings & inspirations in equal parts from 2 points of reference. One is the vernacular meaning of the word “dolorosa” & the other is from the Via Dolorosa.
1. do·lo·ro·so [ˌdɒləˈrəʊsəʊ]
adv. & adj. Music
~ In a mournful or plaintive manner. Used chiefly as a direction.
~ Music performed in a sorrowful manner
2.The Via Dolorosa (Latin,”Way of Grief”, “Way of Sorrows”, “Way of Suffering” or simply “Painful Way”) is a street, in two parts, within the Old City of Jerusalem, held to be the path that Jesus walked, carrying his cross, on the way to his crucifixion.
“They say in heaven you’ll get your real name carved into a precious stone
Drifting through all these cities of ruin on your way back home…”
~ from “Cities of Ruin” by Bill Mallonee
1. “The Neck Was Worn Clean”
First thing I noticed was her “finish.” It was worn clean off the neck, non-existent in most places. An indicator of a well-played & well-loved guitar. The wearing was even up and down the neck. Rhythm playing & more solo oriented gestures given equal weight. Again, a sign of a well-versed player. The fella who sold it to me said his father owned it and played the guitar quite well. Thus, a great “find” became an even greater honor.
The year? 1947. A Gibson ES-125. It originally belonged to Mr. Shepherd who started the world famous Chick Piano in Athens, Ga. back in the day. His son, Van, was kind enough to sell it to me a few months back. It has been a treasure of inspiration.
I used it all over “Dolorosa.”
(Yes, I leaned heavily on my beloved George Harrison Rickenbaker, as well. They were good friends, the Gibson ES-125 & the Ric. But the germination of all the songs started on the Gibson ES.
I let the strings go dull, “thuddy,” dusty & heavy.
The sound & feel tapped into, well…a spirit that carried the day here…
2. “And Our Hearts Nodded”
You write a different song at 50 than you do at 25. I like to think you write a better one. When the illusions & lame promises of rock & roll wear off one starts the untidy (often sad) ritual of unpacking one’s own baggage and seeing if you really have anything to say.
And if you’re lucky?
Well, you’re likely to find that the prophets & troubadours of old and the wizened voices of the past had most of it right all along. All those “voices” that have always linger around the periphery of your spirit for a long time. Not hip, per se. Not “current.”
It’s a “voice,” often collective and unified. with those old prophets and troubadours. Their words, their “prayers, their way of delivering. their “take” on things.
It’s one helluva chorus to give ear to.
One best heed.
It does beg a question:
How did those prophets, poets and troubadours “know?”
How did they give nomenclature to the truths that cascade in rivers with us?
How were they able to enshrine those same truths we so often close our ears to. Pain, suffering deprivation, mortality.
Why were they able to listen to the voices on the highways within and those on the highways they trod?
Here’s the kicker: They did it without propaganda and manipulation. They did it without "Elmer Gantry-ing" it.
They just said what needed to be said…and our hearts nodded.
That’s some of the feel and spirit, I’ve always struggled to make plain in my work. It’s what I’m drawn to into works of others.
And it feels like it’s born health fruit here on “Dolorosa.”
3. “Sad Songs Keep The Devil Away” ~ Jay Farrar
I do have a feeling that dogs me. And it probably dictated the path the songs here on Dolorosa took and on the last few albums.
I wrote them as they “showed up,” and as the lyrics pushed to the surface. I edited very little.
Songwriting has something akin to absolution & (perhaps) exorcism to it. At the very least, one is engaged in endeavor od “naming” something heretofore intangible, buried, unknown. Nomenclature.
At it’s best that’s the reason I do it and have done so for 22 years.
Call it an effort to keep the demons at arm’s length and not run to the liquor cabinet so much.
You look at your life. You inventory the things done & things left undone.
4. “The Astronomy of Spirit.”
And then you look up at the expanse of stars. The quiet of the high deserts in New Mexico drives it all home.
Does anyone watch over us?
Does it listen to our cries? Does it respond?
And if you should answer “Yes,” then is it Something/Someone deeply “personal?”
God, I hope so.
I have always so desperately wanted it to be so.
It depresses me that things aren’t as obvious as i’d like them to be.
Like “what’s next?”
In my life, too many people have “left the party too soon.”
I wish they’d check in once in a spell; just to say how they’re doing; tell me how it is there.
It doesn’t seem like a lot to ask.
Me? I’m glad for those for whom “religious questions” are resolved with facile-ness & proof-text ease. There are those who toss out well-meaning answers with a smugness that lacks compassion.
A quote attributed to St. Francis says that “the loudest Gospel you’ll ever preach is the one you preach with your life.“
Implied in that brilliant quote (it seems) is that perceptions about “life” are also the variables that Faith/non-faith work with.
For me faith and doubt have always slept in the same bed for as long as I can remember.
5. “Signs of The Cross & Flirting With Absurdity”
There is so much about Life & Love, Passion & Mystery that says: “Wait: There’s more. No, it’s not up for grabs.”
One of my heroes, Martin Luther, was in some ways was the first “modern man,” (see Eric Erikson’s “Young Man Luther); Luther was always staring down the devil; that ‘entity” that meant him nothing but harm & confusion.
And the tool Luther knew the devil used most effectively against us was that of guilt & despair.
Sure, artists “flirt” with such states of the heart. Often, they flirt & anesthetize themselves at the same time.
And it’s good to get beneath the skin of what our brothers & sisters feel when the world seems a meaningless and a cold void, absent of God. One can’t live “with” or “in” the darkness forever.
And (by God) when you yourself finally sense the weight of such futility & sadness you realize that it’s nothing to dally with either.
You “counter,” you pray, you wrestle & cling to whatever Light & Love & Compassion you can find.
In my experience that Beacon sometimes even shows his Face.
Albums can be Light, Love & Compassion.
Religion…with a 6-string drag.
A debtor to Grace....and more Grace...and...
“Sad songs keep the devil away.”
6. “That Same Ancient Disease”
It’s “Faith & Courage that gets ya’ through.” ~ “‘Til I Knew It All By Heart.”
And as to Fear, whether it’s driven by “bad religion” or some deep personal anguish?
Courage again. You do what you can to cast It aside.
Fear and Distrust: Are we not all afflicted with that same ancient disease?
Celebrate your “you-ness,” friends. Celebrate it WITH friends.
Are we not all included in the same Grace & whole-ness a suffering God is waiting to bestow?
The harder edges & vicissitudes of life have led me here.
25 years ago, I arrived as a young, hungry songwriter.
I left as a blessed man.
Somehow it all forces you to your knees, literally and figuratively.
You learn to pray without ceasing.
You learn to walk a way of being thankful.
You learn to "fight the good fight." To stay at your post.
And you start, (however stumbling) to practice Compassion and extend Mercy to all you fellow travelers.
(The poets, prophets and troubadours concur.)
Grace & Mercy & Peace.
The last word.
I’ll bet on those three…forever.
released 12 November 2013
Bill Mallonee: Electric & acoustic guitars, vocals, bass, drums, harp, organ
Muriah Rose: Piano, organ, electric piano, string arrangements
released November 12, 2013
Bill Mallonee: Electric & acoustic guitars, vocals, bass, drums, harp, organ
Muriah Rose: Piano, organ, elecric piano, string arrangements
"Dolorosa" was painstakingly mastered by: Bruce Neher at Disc & Dat, Monument, CO. Cheers, Mr. Neher!
all rights reserved
feeds for ,