San Lorenzo by No Show Ponies. I’m putting up this track as a kind of experiment. I’ve always wanted to create a site where I could put my writing and music all in one place. One of the things that I like about blogging is the way that different kinds of things can exist next to each other, like a multi-media collage. I’ve been working to change this site over the last month with my friend Chris Saunders. Chris has been essential in helping me take full control over this blog. Unfortunately, because I have been on the road so much, it is slow going, as just keeping it up to date takes a fair amount of time. Anyway, although I still need to do some work on the site as a whole, for the first time I can post music that I have written directly to this site, without having to use a link.
No Show Ponies is a band that currently consists of myself, on bass and vocals on this track, my brother Ben, on guitar here, and Alex Moralez on drums and percussion. We recorded some songs, mostly live, to a analog tape machine two years ago with the great Austin musician Ramsay Midwood. NSP has been primarily a rock band, but we treated this song as minimally as possible. The only overdub here is some very light percussion by Alex.
I’m still working out how I want to present my music here and because of that, and the fact that I just started working with my brother again after a year long hiatus, I wanted to choose something that was not entirely representative of what we do. I always really liked the way this song came out though, as it has a haunted quality in the performance. (If you listen on headphones, and any musician prays that you listen to their music on proper speakers or headphones instead of tinny computer speakers, there are some strange noises in the background that I can’t account for. Ghosts in the machine perhaps.)
I’m really proud of this song as a piece of writing. (Pride cometh before the fall!) Although this song was written with a very specific location in mind, I feel like the writing is expansive enough that it could just as easily become another place in the imagination of the listener. I purposely cross-pollinated images from Italy with things that could be in a western movie. (There is an obscure reference to my favorite western, The Wild Bunch.) I’ve also always been struck by art that includes a memento mori in it. (Read about memento mori here.) “Remember that you have to die.” However, if you think this song is bleak, I hope it also includes the idea that there is love and beauty in the world, as well as an interesting strangeness.
Riding down through painted vistas
Against the rising of the sun
Either the dove shall be released
Or it’s the cold steel of the gun
Your beauty it haunts me
Makes me want to do something bold
Last I saw your naked shoulders
Get covered up in San Lorenzo
Kids are burning insects
With lenses in the street
I begin to feel the presence
Of a divine comedy
Your beauty eludes me
I never felt so alone
I’d give anything to go back
And pass the time in San Lorenzo
Walking past mass graves
Endless skulls and endless bones
Merchants and slaves
All sharing the same tombs
Your beauty, it comforts me
Makes me forget all I know
I’m hoping for a chance encounter
On the way to San Lorenzo
By Jefferson Brown
P.S. If you like the track, feel free to pass it along to friends or to make it part of some other kind of multi-media collage of your own.