I Don't Think There's No Need To Bring Nothin'
1. Run Dark Olive
2. Is It Too Late To Start
3. First Kind Sight
4. I Said Something Yesterday That I Liked
5. She Lost Feeling In The Ends Of Her Fingers
6. A Sort Of Reminder
7. Weak In The Knees Across The Sky
8. I'm Gonna Deal With You Someday
9. OK As Long As You Don't Squeak Or Bark Or Make Other Animal Noises
10. I Should Have Kept Going
11. All Memory Of You Would Be Erased
Although for the purposes of these liner notes I wish it were otherwise, my first memory is the sound of a trumpet at a tent meeting revival. The notes jarred my conscious mind awake and I looked around as if for the first time. In my short life prior to this, there had been only watery shadows and grey lights and distant muffled voices. But now I was seeing and hearing. I saw what I instinctively knew were my people. My older brothers, Conrad and Jonathan came into focus. And my sister Grace’s braids. My mother who had always been part of me was suddenly separate. I could see her. She was smooth and dark-haired and inviting and wore glasses that couldn’t hide bright eyes. She half smiled at something distant. Warm, familiar, brand new.
Later, sitting on my mother’s lap in the passenger seat with the dusk, doing my pre-language best to sing “Blessed Assurance” and “When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder,” I realized my father owned a rather odd moving vehicle with a cream-coloured steering wheel that made everything go by. It was called a Volkswagen bus. And I should have been tired, but I was strangely awake and alive. It had been hard work emerging from my earliest years, my mind opening tentatively above ground like a curled seedling, feeling the first air, discovering memory. My mother faded. And the eggtooth trumpet. And the world.
The next memory that stands out is numinous and sheer. My mother had taken the me that was trapped in a toddler’s body to the Yoder’s home in Cochranton, Pennsylvania for a late morning visit. They had adopted a boy who I soon discovered inside pedalling and touching a wooden house that made universe after universe come into being. Here was God and he turned out to be an adopted boy playing the piano. As I maneuvered my twenty-some-odd pounds of humanity across the floor and stood up on unreliable legs leaning toward the back right corner of the dark wooden bench steadying my wobbly unbelievable head, I learned two defining things in the space of a few moments. First, this machine was calling me. I was now not only awake and alive, I had a reason to live. Second, I was utterly and completely unwelcome. The adopted boy who was God looked down at me and I felt scorn and violence for the first time. I can see now that he was well aware that any attempt at a duet would have proven bothersome and noisy. I can see now that he was pretty smart. But back then I knew only that he was up and I was down and he wanted to keep it that way. In short, I learned in those very first moments that music was an alluring cutthroat business. Somebody somewhere must have stolen the very soul of God and turned it into a competition.
There were as of yet no musical instruments in our house except for my father’s harmonica, but there was a reel to reel tape recorder and a small radio and a record player and now of course other memories begin flooding in.
But my parents as children had been Amish and my mother told me that there was a piano in her classroom at school and that she went home one day as a young girl and made a keyboard out of cardboard with a scissors and played the cardboard keyboard in the evenings which made music only inside of her.
We got our first upright piano in Fairpoint, Ohio when I was in the third grade. When Grandma Overholt came to visit, my sister Grace said we should close up the piano and she might think it was a furnace. I could go on and on.
These songs without words take me back, way back to the beginning to a pure resonant place deep within. Not that it matters, but I think this is maybe American music: a mingling of different traditions that have seeped into all of us.
This record was initially included in a collection of Michael Wilson landscape photographs called First Kind Sight. Dave Nixon wrote some words which were a part of the book. The titles were mostly taken from Dave’s words, a short postscript that Michael included in the book and conversations heard round the dinner table at the Wilsons one evening. If you ever need a few good titles, give Henry, Polly or Sonny a call.
Linford Detweiler, March 1999
All songs written and played by Linford Detweiler ©1999. All songs recorded by Linford Detweiler at the Grey Ghost in Norwood, Ohio except “Run Dark Olive,” recorded by Mark Hood at Echo Park, Bloomington, Indiana. Mastered by Grey Larsen at Sleepy Creek. Photographs from First Kind Sight by Michael Wilson. Design by Owen Brock. Thanks to Kevin Ott at Hennegan. Thanks to Nevin Essex. (Percussion courtesy of the Emerson Upright Patented October 26, 1888, a few loose ivories and Willow’s clicking pads on the hardwood floor.)
Karin Bergquist. Come in from the garden.
©1999 Linford Detweiler. What Reindeer and Grey Ghost Records. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws. Printed in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.
Going Home Again
Distant piano... slightly jazzy or bluesy... yet there are hymns and bar songs too. Lots of reverb; the pedal is getting a lot of use. Linford Detweiler's solo piano CD, I Don't Think There's No Need To Bring Nothin' is playing quietly as the evening sun slips into grey cloud again. I'm wondering how I come to be listening to this? If it's very different from the Eno 'ambient CDs I had on earlier? [Eno has taken to producing his own CDs and selling them through his website: check them out if you like his more minimal work] And wouldn't my mother like this? It's not very rock & roll, is it? So, I'm getting old! I still like free jazz, electronica and the weirder end of rock, some drum & bass [is it still called that this month?], but I find myself also listening to quiet, tuneful music; sometimes the kind of stuff I used to moan about my mother playing when I was little, and then condemned as a teenager. Sometimes I play the actual stuff I used to moan about... Is it just nostalgia that now makes me like The Seekers' 'The Carnival Is Over'? And I mean like - it's full-throated angst gets to me every time. Don't give me any of that ironic cover version stuff that Nick Cave does, I want The Seekers' version. I remember my mum listening to their final concert on the radio, and taping it onto a little reel-to-reel recorder. The band were in tears on the radio, I scoffed loudly, my mother told me to shut up and carried on listening. Every so often she'd listen again. Now it's in my record collection.
And so are Flanders and Swann. Admit it, you know 'Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud' don't you? Everyone knows that one. But the real gems are elsewhere in the triple CD box set up on my shelf. There's a sad ode to the obscure railway stations that got shut down in the 60s railway closures; and a hilarious non-PC song that 'translates' Arabic sounding wails into a longwinded, shaggy dog type song about a caravan train in the desert. There are iguanas, gnus and wombats. A sloth that, well, is slothful. And, of course, the gasman who causes a week's work on his Monday call, the end result being a cyclical song that might never end.
But it does. Just like childhood. As I get older I accept more, admit to what I enjoy, sometimes choose to re-listen to those memories. I can't be bothered to push myself all the time. Time seems to have made so much pop music better, has worn away the critical vitriol I used to be proud of. Linford's CD isn't, of course, anything to do with my childhood or my mum - I just thought she'd probably like it; it certainly isn't 'hip', 'radical' or 'experimental' in any way. Linford is the lead singer and main composer of Over the Rhine, an American indy-band who have been going for years. They self-produced several CDs, got signed to IRS, dropped by IRS, went back to producing their own CDs, and have now been picked up by Virgin. Their last CD Good Dog Bad Dog has been reissued with a slightly different running order and a new song replacing two old ones [unfortunately one of my favourites has been axed!]. It's a set of melancholic, intelligent, acoustic-based songs that touch on funk and jazz as much as rock. They are friends of, frequent support act to, and auxilary members of, The Cowboy Junkies, if that gives you a comparison. I find their music quite magical, their lyrics puzzling and complex, bemusing and inventive. And Linford's CD? Produced originally as a CD insert into a book of photos by Michael Wilson [who designs their covers, and many other famous people's covers too], it's a half-hour excursion into half-heard tunes, dust spinning in sunlight; jazz-tinged memories; nostalgia and uncertainty. It strikes me as original yet totally unoriginal because of its associations. But there's nothing ironic or postmodern about it. It's simply a group of eleven solo piano pieces; take it or leave it. I love it, though it has pushed me deeper into my blue mood today.
And what brought that on? Well, I've got a poem under way [these things take ages to finish, so don't hold your breath] sparked off by the realisation that, on a visit to see my mum in her small and crowded West London house, I was wearing the black corduroys I kept when Dad died a few years ago; and was sleeping in my Mum's bed, as she moved to make room for my partner and I, with the baby next door. And outside the shops and pubs I knew had disappeared, the main road at the end of her road was more like a motorway, and everything was changing, me included. And I didn't want it to, I wanted everything to stay the same and, and, and... But everything does change, though maybe music is one thing that doesn't. I cling to it, even when it comes with specific associations and events, scenes or images. Linford's new CD has none of those yet, but it lets me wander and work through my moroseness, suits the rain and grey clouds we've had all day.
- Rupert Loydell ©2000, Tangents Front Page
"Achingly beautiful instrumental piano from the primary songwriter of Over the Rhine. Powerfully evocative, timeless, and rustic (on one song you can hear the piano keys rub together as they're played). And listen to the dog walking across the (hardwood) floor on the ninth track. With wonderful liner notes and classy artwork..."
- Dave Urbanski, Independent's Day
"Detweiler's musical landscapes on solo piano cover a lot of territory. He's got Americana down cold ("First Kind Sight") and can play traditional jazz ("I Said Something Yesterday That I Liked") as well as pop that begs for a stand-up bass and drums a la George Shearing in his trio days ("Is It Too Late to Start"). My favorite, not because of the title, but because of how it meanders in a bluesy, Ray Charles-style, is "OK As Long As You Don't Squeak Or Bark Or Make Other Animal Noises." Detweiler is well-known... along with Karin Bergquist, as a driving force behind Cincinnati's Over the Rhine, a band on the verge of being an overnight success ten years in the making. Detweiler works wonders behind an upright piano, showing how powerful a solo piano can be..."
- Eric Steiner, Cosmik Debris