Itís love songs, mostly, this time around. No one album explains anybody, he believes, and still kissing last nightís smoke stained lips is its own thing, with beds in its corners, bicycles in the driveway, and sun coming through the trees. The images are immanent - filled with the moment before and the moment after - a collection of them lingering like smoke in the meandering channels of memory.   READ MORE

Still Kissing Last Night's Smoke Stained Lips

LINER NOTES:   by Ryan Van Winkle, January 2004

Leaving is like dying. Robert Blake knows this; anyone who has ever been lost on a desert road knows this. Blake and I have felt our own deaths on tombstone gray Washington state highways, on jets flying like forgotten angels above clouds, on trains in Springtime with no one to point out the hills to.

On these journeys we are nothing. We are lighter than air; we are in purgatory. We are only memories to those who knew us. Right now, sweetly drunk on airline red wine, I am a long-gone kiss on-the cheek to a woman in Washington D.C., my mother cleans my sheets in Connecticut, in California Jennifer Anniston does not know where I am. Up here we are nothing; we are merely going.

Blake has been the ghost for much of his life. He reminds me that these drunken melancholy hobo ways also breathe life. Blake says constant goodbyes to loved ones in this too big world. You can smell them in the hair and rhythm of his music.

Iíve seen him in Edinburgh pubs talking to old fiddlers, seen him making salsa with an Australian, seen him dancing with Ellie, just like in the song, and watched him create new life in the coffin of moving.

This happens all the time; it is the beauty of our Greyhound ways. Yet, neither of us knows if it is worth it. Iíve seen him leave a city forever with his guitar on his back, seen him pull out like a circus, struggle to get on that train to leave the comfort of people who made him whoop and holler and sing and write and play. Itís hard to leave that, hard to get on the train and leave all that behind. Because you donít know when itís going to run out. And you feel so bad about leaving, about the fear that itís all going to blow away, like your hair; someday leave you bald and broken, and you feel so bad you write about it. And writing about it turns out good; in songs he hugs close the people heís met, keeps them there so he can visit without the expense of a ticket or phone call. You keep going to another place, keep trying to do what you did again; try to find the good people, get inspired, play your happy songs, make women.

Well, if you asked us on a day when we were kissing someone goodbye we would say we regret this life we have made for ourselves. This ghost life where you show up in Wichita and the girl with straw between her teeth has grown up, had a baby, remembered you; decided it wasnít worth it. If you asked us on the days weíve turned our backs on strong midnight kisses and cognac after glow. If you asked us if weíd rather be moving on, weíd say no, say we wish we could stop. Stop, burn all the gasoline, flood all the highways, stall all the merciless, mean vehicles which propell us away from the people we miss.

It is a bittersweet thing, this life we have created for ourselves. This life Blake has lived and put down to music for you to find whiskey comfort in, to read and fall into like an abused road map. This life is a grand thing and it is a horrible, lonely, drinking by yourself again with your guitar and a story thing. But, it is real. And you can hear it. These songs are a last dance with a beautiful stranger, they are getting stoned with random hippies on the Rhine, they are beat Paris musing, they are dry and flat and as rich as the American Midwest and they are the sadness and the breathless joy of every journey we have ever taken.

The tracks are:

  • a hackensack bar LISTEN
  • one monday night
  • kitchen
  • salt and lemon
  • idaho
  • forgiveness, again
  • last nights party
  • 10th street
  • farm in new hampshire
  • the reeks and the wrecks