Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Porch Swing Reveries:
Ben Kweller’s Changing Horses

The world was sucking him through a straw. Sweat trickled down his forehead as he looked at her postcard. Two glassy-eyed deer, light pouring through the arms of an army of elms, snow-capped mountains above it all like stone-faced gods. He had never seen snow. He thought about her, her body swelling beneath her hyacinth-blue dress, how the sun painted gold on her face, the way her lips trembled when she said goodbye. He’d been drinking an hour now, pining for her, and was slowly losing his faith. He felt like singing, so he stood up—the porch swing sounding like startled mice—and grabbed his beat up guitar.

He played a sad song, “Gypsy Rose”. He had the blues after all. He sang about her milky legs wrapped around his body. He never had any friends, no family to speak of, but always found salvation in the warmth of her skin. He sang another one, “Old Hat,” and imagined holding her tight, slowdancing in their living room, and, whispering in her ear, admits to talking too much, and that he’d be her glove, her scarf, the cross around her neck, but not an old hat covering her pretty head.

His reedy voice was a plaintive thing. He always wanted to sound like Hank Williams but always ended up sounding like a boy. Even as he sang about being helpless, he sounded like he’d already begun to bounce back. But the ache was real. He was an eggshell about to crack. He missed Wendy Baker. He sang about how he was the one who liked change, but felt taken by surprise. He wanted to rewind the things he said that made it rain inside her eyes. All he wanted to do was to keep her body warm.

Gathering the pieces of his heart again, he sang “The Things I Like to Do.” It was one of her favorite songs. He liked staring up at starry skies, counting every glittery pinprick, and down at the blue ocean, especially from the lighthouse where they first kissed. He liked it when they touched each other, the heat on the fingertips like when you twist in a light bulb and the light first flickers on. He liked walking down little streets like the ones in Paris when they were pretending to be poets. He liked listening to music on the bus. Anything from the classic Grand Ole Opry days. Hank Williams Sr., Lefty Frizzell, Roy Acuff. Gram Parsons and Neil Young. Dylan, of course. He liked talking in the diner instead of screaming in a bar. He never liked anything loud. But most of all he liked liking her.

He wanted to feel her breathing against his shoulder as they danced. He wanted to hear the whirring motor of her snoring as they lay in bed. He wanted to see her eyes light up as he made chocolate-chip pancakes for her. He even missed the cat. Wiping the tears from his face, he rested the guitar on his lap and watched the sun smear down the sky like an egg yolk.

Label: ATO Records
Release Date: February 3, 2009

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