I have a small white dog. He is known as Thunder, the wonder dog. Also, he is known as The Seven Pound Mound of Hound. He was, at one point, my Sweet Lady’s dog. Now he is our dog. Thunder the wonder dog is pushing 70 in the people years. Our marriage is pushing 77 in the dogs years. How could it be that the dog which came to us in the second year of matrimony was not considered joint property the whole time?
The polite thing to say is that people and relationships change and grow. The truth is that I have spent too much of my life with my head up my ass. If there is any grace in cranial rectal disorder, it is that one has an abundance of time and darkness to construct dreams. Of course, capital extraction is a painful process, but it is necessary sooner or later. That is if you really want to get something done in this life. Which it is not clear that everyone wants to do.
Stephanie Morgan obviously wants to get something done. But what, exactly, and where to start, and how to keep going, and how to hold it together without losing sight of your dreams, that’s the trick, isn’t it? It’s the challenge that she and Chuck Lichtenberger along with the entirety of Stephanie’s Id take up on the new album “Starfruit” which, like its namesake, is a work of subtle sweetness, occassionally tart, and not nearly so exotic as it appears at first glance. One just has to be open to beautifully unique experiences.
Such as life in a boat with a tiger. “The Life of Pi” conveys in song the story of beauty, mystery, and the supernatural encountered in the novel of the same name. Any journey has it’s inherent dangers, but how else does one get the knowledge he is seeking. That is, if he sticks with it. As “Closer” points out, that’s the hard part. Sometimes it is tempting to chuck it all and run off to Canada.
Or Cadiz. Whichever. Stephanie’s Id recount’s Jon Reid’s love sick journey to Moorish Spain and the primal cry which that drew from the heart of a would be socialist, “let me come home.” “Not so fast,” Stephanie answers in a big-girls-don’t-cry power ballad whose strength is undercut by maudlin horns and a final verse which sheds light on the illusion of strength she has tried hard to reflect. And so it goes, that pendulum of relationships. Back and forth until you begin to think the whole thing is a movie.
Or someone else’s play, seen through a hole in the wall. The Eurythmic-esque anthem “Cinematic” makes it clear that those romantic gestures are fine, but what’s really going to work is, well, work. All talk and no walk makes Johnny a lonely boy. Which brings us back to that dog. I got to walking the dog quite a bit, especially when my Sweet Lady was out of town and the poor boy was hit with what we have come to term “poonami.” To tell you the truth, I don’t think he liked the condition any more than I did. The problem with walking the walk is that you might wind up walking a long way. It gets harder when you get older. You get tired. The upside to that, however, is more dreaming.
And where else to dream but in a small town that reminisces about the better days of the past? I always thought the Dream Academy was singing about Northern Ireland in “Life in a Northern Town,” but it is entirely possible that I was just not paying very close attention to the lyrics. The way Stephanie Morgan sings it, I think this might be the Monkey’s Pleasant Valley transported to Northern Jersey on a cold November in 1967. There’s nothing much else to do but go down to the station and watch the Golden Boy roll out of town. But where is he going? What’s he going to do?
I think I know what I would do if I were the Golden Boy, stationed at Fort Jackson for basic training and turning all that northern sophistication on those South Carolina girls. Mick Jagger made it clear that there are plenty of benefits to being the object of a star fucker, but Stephanie’s Id reminds a small town boy that, while he can get it, it may not suit him. Not all of our dreams are ones we truly want fulfilled.
And the ones we really do want are ones we’ll have to work for. So the pendulum swings back again, and “House of Many Colors” points out just how flimsy are the walls we build up in our own heads. The truth, as usual, is simpler. It’s also more of a mess. And it leaves us exposed, like the glass cat in Frank Baum’s “The Patchwork Girl of Oz,” who is always showing off her pink brains. If Stephanie’s are orange, so much the better as long as she and we don’t think that the originality of fluorescent grey matter will be any less diminished by showing it off.
It should, rather, be multiplied, so that when all those fancy dreams come crashing down, we have plenty of hands to build it back up again. Because they will come crashing down. That is not the question. What we need to know, posits “So Low,” is that we will rebuild again. It’s heavy work, but it’s honest work. Our dreams will come back when the foundation is right. And the place we build will be home. A home that even someone or something as exotic and as normal as a starfruit can feel comfortable in.