When you hear those spirits calling, ain't no use to fight
October 24, 2008 12:59 PM   Subscribe

To celebrate the build up to the spookiest time of the year (which is almost certainly a co-opted Celtic end of the year festival), here are some spooky songs about endings from the marvelous Jason Webley: the end of the month, the end of the year, the end of life (with bonus ballet!), the end of the world, and the reason that we have endings.

BonusPoliticalFilterSong: Hopefully this year Norah Jones won't think election day is scarier than Halloween this year.
posted by Caduceus (15 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Portlanders should RUSH to Jason's Halloween extravaganza this year, FWIW. In the past, he's been buried, tied to a tree and left naked overnight, been carried away by the belle dame sans merci in a cockle upon the waves, and more. His events page is here, and the show's on November 1. Wear warm clothes.
posted by mwhybark at 1:25 PM on October 24, 2008

I am, in fact, planning on it.
posted by Caduceus at 1:27 PM on October 24, 2008

Jason is the best. Best live shows in the history of ever. Go see him if you possibly can.
posted by Neofelis at 1:35 PM on October 24, 2008

The first two links in my comment are to an audio archive of 2001's show - I would like to commend Smurfs to your especial attention as a sample of the madness Jason enables, and also Halloween, the song Caduceus quotes in the title.

2001 was especially intense, as it was, you know, just after 9-11, and by happenstance some of Jason's songs that were in regular performance at the time had strong lyrical premonitions of the things we'd all just watched happen. Jason took that opportunity to create an amazing, cathartic spectacle of grief, fear, and rebirth. He's one in a million.
posted by mwhybark at 2:08 PM on October 24, 2008

I wonder about that 'almost certainly a co-opted Celtic end of year festival'. There is a lazy romantic tendency to attribute all ancient magical/spiritual stuff to 'the Celts'. But you have to remember that the Romans very largely eradicated Celtic culture throughout most of Europe and then the invading barbarians re-eradicated any traces which might possibly have been left. So unless some tradition demonstrably originated in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, or Brittany, and spread from there, Celtic attribution is doubtful in my view.

My guess is that it would be truer to say that many pagan religions, Celtic, non-Celtic, pre-Celtic, or post-Celtic, had a 'pre-winter' festival at about this time, but that the Christian version really deserves to be recognised in its own right rather than as a mere co-option. I see no evidence for a vigorous tradition which the Christians appropriated; it looks more as if they timed their festivals for the same pragmatic reasons as every other religion.
posted by Phanx at 2:43 PM on October 24, 2008

Living in the cultural backwater that is Texas, every time I see Webley, the show maxes out at 10-12 people. Very intimate and all that, but he always has to play solo and much of the theater is lost. However, watching one guy play all of the parts to those songs is amazing.

One show, he sat in a coffee shop reading us stories between songs. He did a damn fine job of defusing the uber-hipsters and the rastafarian-fuckwads who thought he was infringing upon their otherwise cool experiences.

One note: If he asks for requests and you say "Bigger than Yours" he will give you a weird look, mumble something about why anyone would want to hear that song and then play something else. If you do it three days in a row, you get the same response everyday.
That, too, is entertaining.
posted by Seamus at 3:08 PM on October 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

You know, I don't think Haloween is the spookiest time of the year. The spookiest time of the year is a cold winter morning in the mountains, waking up at dawn and walking out of your tent to see the sun rising over the mountains and refracting in the ice on the trees. Beautiful, but somehow terrifying.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:41 PM on October 24, 2008

My favorite Jason Webley song (and awesome video): Eleven Saints.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:24 AM on October 25, 2008

It's not the best recording, or even his best performance of it, but listening to this particular performance of his song "With" followed by "Almost Time to Go" pretty reliably makes me cry. Maybe you had to be there.

One of these days I'll have to dig out my digital8 tapes of that 2001 show and put them on youtube or something. That was a truly killer show. I'm bummed that I didn't notice his November 2 show pre-sales invitation until too late, and missed out on a chance to buy a ticket. Any Seattle folks making the trek down to Portland on the 1st who wouldn't mind a tag-along, please drop me a line.
posted by hades at 8:47 PM on October 25, 2008

Thank you for linking that, hades. That was wonderful.
posted by Caduceus at 10:35 AM on October 26, 2008

hades, I forgot you taped that show. Weren't you wearing an accodian costume? Or was that someone else? It would be interesting to line up your tape with the minidisc rip I have up: quad!
posted by mwhybark at 1:00 PM on October 26, 2008

accordion, d'oh
posted by mwhybark at 1:00 PM on October 26, 2008

And finally, I suppose I should link to my loong 2003 interview with Jason. As one might expect he worked a bit to make it more challenging than other interviews I've conducted. I hope I gave value for value.
posted by mwhybark at 1:07 PM on October 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Mike, thanks for linking that interview you did. Thanks even more for transcribing the thing.
posted by now i'm piste at 7:59 PM on October 28, 2008

my pleasure - even the transcribing. I have the audio rip lying around on a hard drive someplace, maybe someday I'll toss that up too. LOTS of traffic noise.
posted by mwhybark at 8:54 AM on October 29, 2008

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