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New liner Notes to "Need To Bleed"
I assembled this to give folks an idea of how dark nights can affect a writer. Of course, I am using that term figuratively. It is the nature of the species, it seems, to live with a certain dread & anxiety in ages of modernity. such feelings of separation from ones elusive self can be the stuff of great films, great books, great theology and great music.
There was that element in my youth to be sure, but for the most part, my childhood was a happy one.
Still, intermittent depression and a certain melancholy have dogged me since I first became aware of it and around age 7.
(Playing drums helped. So did the Beatles, Paul Revere & The Raiders and later so did the Byrds, Neil Young, Hendrix and Cream.)
Of course there was no nomenclature to describe the sadness then. Those descriptions, and their possible origins, would have to be ferreted out and learned later.
Till then, I suppose I just buried it...but I always felt like a freak as a kid.
This was also the first rumblings of ragged poetry, doggerel and good intentions began to surface. I was about 14 years old.
The ground work of words and music being married and able to create "other worlds" (and safer ones perhaps!) was already beginning to take shape in me, I think.
I have never had much going for me in the way of "filters. "
I'm usually a victim to the immediate sensory/neuro response to what's perceived before me; a great gift if your a songwriter; a curse if your trying to be a savvy human.
Need To Bleed.
You get to see, sense and hear the evolution of my work, via a cluster of songs, over 2 short years.
The record opens with hope and ends with hope;
It's the songs in the middle that are disturbing...
The songs are more or less chronological.
It's Summer 2003 and what do we find?
It's Audible Sigh bleeding into Summershine into Fetal Position and into Locket Full of Moonlight with a glace down across the "strawberry fields" to Perfumed Letter.
(Summershine received much praise, but a label in Nashville seemed unable to galvanize it's initial good reception in the national indie press.)
Summershine proved to be the band's "swan song." You cabn't run a band when there seems to be so many variables conspiring against it. My friends & I needed some hope that some entity connected with the "biz" was looking out for us.
There seems to have been no one.
It also proved to be the catalyst to a new way of seeing things and making music.
Need To Bleed.
The sound of a great band on the rocks, the death knell sounded with rigor mortis setting in.
And then followed by the tentative baby steps of a solo career emerging from the wreckage.
Need to Bleed is a transitional; record, to be sure....
but a very important one if you have the heart to hear.
It strikes me now as equal parts hope, self-loathing and soul despair.
All of these have been previously released for; 3 of them, you'll note, are part of the solo acoustic demos I recorded in Athens prior to the making of Audible Sigh and 4 are from Locket Full of Moonlight.
The record was intended to be a supplemental gift at a festival we were playing that summer. I wanted it to be a bit of a grab-bag. Some songs looking back, some old & worn and some new and looking forward.
My "so-called-solo career of sorts" was forced on me; it was already in full swing having just recorded and released Locket Full of Moonlight & Fetal Position; (Perfumed Letter would surface in Jan 2004 with Dear Life & Friendly Fire following in Ju of 2004......all with a 16month span. Busy fellow!)
Audible Sigh had had it hey-day, ascended and "failed." There was no band left; I think people fail to realize just how much had been put into the quality of the songs and the delivery of the "live" shows. If you're a support musician, when the nets dredge empty, you start to ask around about a better job.
Sure, there was some self-pity. But not without an very favorable assessment of what we'd "brought to the table" as a band.
Having felt betrayed by every aspect of the industry after we had "given it our all," I panicked. And I crumbled.
At this point? There was no safety net of label, manager, booking agent or distributor. Enter Jeff Kottoff and Lo-Fidelity. They were kind enough to press up hard copy of an early version of this offering.
In the "new" and improved version here, I've tried to lead the listener through, via a couple of songs mostly in chronological order, the gathering of a darkness that felt like drowning...and then back to the surface for a gulp of air.
May I be honest here?
I have no idea how I had come to this dark impasse. Drink & drugs had not even remotely been a part of our lives on the road as a band.
It's generally a given that life as a writing, recording and touring artist is full of uncertainties and disappointments. This felt like something different. you learn to think on the fly, go without sleep and give it your all in every situation.
My life had became darker and more desperate than I could have imagined. Perhaps it was the settling in of the fact something unique and irreplaceable had died and i had no idea "how" to grieve it's demise. It all went back into the songs...
And, as i said, those songs got darker. I'm not sure that I'd even come close to ever writing songs like Shell-shocked, Dirty Job, Table for Two or the Locket reprise. Filters gone. the soundtrack of an open wound.
"Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," by Robert Robinson in 1757 is my closer here:
"O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above..."
Thus goes the old hymn...
Duly noted. Daily embraced.
In the end it's all there is...
Anyway, this record is one bit scrap notes of hope from the front and one bit the ramblings from the asylum of my own ragged heart.
Perhaps, on some days, they are one & the same...
released January 31, 2018
bill mallonee and various player who were in vigilantes of Love
Bill Mallonee is an Americana artist w/ 75 plus albums over a 25 year career. Voted by Paste Music Magazine #65 in their
"Top 100 Living Songwriters" poll. He was the founding member of Vigilantes of Love. He has worked with Mark Heard, Buddy Miller, Emmylou Harris, & Peter Buck from REM. His most recent work, "The Rags of Absence" released in Jan. 2017....more