A few days ago via 4 dropbox files sent to me in St. Louis from Sean Dunn in Athens I heard for the first time the fruits of Five Eight’s labor from its recent recording sessions at Studio 1093. The 4 tracks were/are not final per se–still need some fine tuning with backing vocals, guitar overdubs, etc–but ready enough for primetime in terms of getting their manager’s input and candid feedback. Well fans–all I can say is I cannot wait for the band’s new record. The fan in me says the last 3 Five Eight records (Good Nurse, Black Album, Your God Is Dead to Me Now) are in many ways my personal favorites from the group and frankly hard to top. Without putting too much pressure on the boys (ha..ha), the songs I heard via the small speaker on the back of my Samsung Galaxy tell otherwise. Hollow, Song for Jim Gordon, Palace Estates, and Sherman Oak Fire are the names of these tracks (as of today anyway).
One of the songs listed above in particular actually gave me the chills when I heard Mike’s singing. That had not happened to me in at least a year or so (the last time when I heard the Uncle Tupelo song Wipe The Clock for the first time in many years). I just love it when that happens. Just hauntingly beautiful singing and lyrics.
This past Saturday morning I decided to hit my wife with this track the moment she woke up. What started as an innocent “hey check out Five Eight’s new stuff” ended in her literally being moved to not chills (my response) but actual emotional tears (her response). Just a fantastic and special song.
Patrick has written on this blog previously about sharing emotional experiences through art (see blog posts “why art” and “why a man is a pent up thing and what to do about it”) and the brain’s emotional response to art. Well, when the emotional response to art is so strong and intense, its just a very special thing to happen and to witness.
The band has several shows coming up in February, March, and April–including Atlanta this weekend, Gainesville and Orlando in March, and Athens in April. They will soon announce additional shows for May. Many of these new tracks are now being performed live. I highly encourage y’all to come out to see the shows and test out (and share) your own emotions with the band and others in the crowd.
Angelo Mantione passed away April 1, 2010
The night before his funeral I wrote this, and read it for our family and friends at the end of his funeral.
It was my best attempt to make sense of the disease.
How can I prove to you what kind of a man my father is?
More like you can show me,
And over the last few years you have.
My Mother, my Uncle, my Brother my Sister,
You his friends and family
His grandsons and granddaughters
You rallied around and loved him
You are his legacy
You are the hopes and dreams that he leaves behind
Let us remember the stories we should tell
Last night we sang to him and for him
But I can’t pretend to speak for everyone here
I know there are a so many stories about my dad
I only have one of them
If you had only seen him in these last few years
You might think that he was always following by my mother’s side
But that wasn’t his style at all
I remember the lullabies he sang to me
As he cradled me in his arms his sweet strong voice soothing me to sleep
I wanted so much to cross the line into his world of manhood
That I tried shortcut after shortcut
He had none of it
Just as death is unimaginable, so is having your mind and world begin to shrink down to a tiny size and be broken down to feelings of anger, hunger and confusion; a life of fuzzy forgetful shadows. April 1st will be three years since my father died. It was almost twelve years from the first time I noticed my Mensa-smart father might have something wrong with his memory until the day he passed. His three children, sister, wife and brother-in-law ate Italian food at his bedside in the hospital while his quiet form rested until he drew his last breath. Since then I have written a number of long poems to his memory, trying to make sense of the slow unraveling of everything that makes someone who they are.
For thousands of families, the struggle is going on now. It is a family disease, more perhaps than any other. The choices for care are not pretty. Though we are middle class and insured, it nearly tore our family apart. We had difficult discussions with my mother as my brother and I tried to get her to put him in a home. During their visits, I would wake to my mother screaming as my father grabbed her, lashing out in confusion and rage, leaving deep bruises. I tried to figure out what made him feel comfortable and what drove him crazy. I would take him out to lunch and job sites, gently leading him around like he was a VIP: ”Right this way Mr. Mantione”, “Your car is ready Mr. Mantione”, “Allow me to help you with your seatbelt Mr. Mantione”, and “Let me get your coat, sir”. Near the end, he couldn’t really tell what was going on and he would become agitated if he lost sight of my mother for even a minute (she, being the jealous type, rather enjoyed this aspect of the disease). Another bonus for her was that he was kind of a stud right up to the end which, unfortunately, my mother was kind enough to let us know.
Eventually, he couldn’t be trusted to go to the bathroom alone and needed help just to take a piss. It made him angry to take off or put on his coat, to get in and out of a car, step into elevators, onto escalators, or navigate stairs, but my mother took him everywhere. They went on cruises to Ireland, Italy, Alaska and Greece. They would go out dancing, to bingo, museums and casinos. She cared for him and their grandchildren as much as she could, though we were unable to return the favor. She didn’t slow down for a minute and he generally seemed pretty happy, keeping that rascal look in his eyes and always ready with a zinger.
Again, a thousand apologies about these long gaps in posting. My life, these days…
But I’d like to circle back on our earlier blog entry about why I feel what we do is important. You may recall the thing from a few weeks ago called Why ‘A Man is a Pent-Up Thing’ and What to Do About It. If it’s important that we give a bunch of people a place to come and live their emotional lives, then there’s an additional layer of this discussion I want to explore.
First, watch this video, especially the first few minutes:
If we take the science of mirror neurons as true, and the research bears this out, then there’s documented evidence of empathic brain activity that occurs when we see another person (or animal, actually) experience an event. This is, I think, the science underlying the shared emotional event of you guys coming to see a Five Eight show.
Sorry I didn’t write many updates last week. I was in training for my job and that involved a long commute to Atlanta, each day. It was kind of grueling. It was a huge relief to finally get to the weekend and drive to Albany, GA to play. It was a great show, fortunately, and the crowd was fantastic. We had a great time and I think we’ll be headed down there again soon.
I think one of the things I like about Albany is how much it feels like home to me. I grew up in Columbus, which is only a little more than an hour away. I saw a lot of people who reminded me of old friends and it felt like being home for the holidays. I met a young couple before the show- he is a US Marine stationed at their logistics school in Albany and she is his girlfriend. She moved to Albany from Paris. Yes, the one in France. Before that she lived in Hong Kong. I told her “You’re a long way from Paris here, and you may find it a bit frustrating or alarming after you’ve been here a while, but there’s good in every place. A place like Albany can have its own special magic if you’re willing to look for it and you’re open to it.” I told her that I had grown up in a small, Southern town and that there are little pockets of grace and erudition, here and there. There are reasons that Truman Capote, Carson McCullers and Harper Lee used to spend so much time in Columbus, GA. Sure, it’s not New York City and you may not be able to get dim sum at 4am, but you can also pass an exceedingly lazy afternoon talking about books and films while waiting for dusk to come and the crickets to coax you out into the night for a walk or a meal downtown.