I’ve noticed a disturbing trend on the Grieve to list of late where - for one reason or another - the tracks are becoming a little more optimistic - a little more hopeful. And while yes - there are times when that’s appropriate - it’s the sadness of a track that we’re drawn to - the pure melancholy of a love remembered or a life cut short - or - as with this week’s track - both!
I’ve been listening to this track for weeks now - along with its sister track Experimental Mice - it’s so wonderfully evocative of the band’s name: First The Winter - because yes, unfortunately - before you get to the good stuff - often-time you have to go through hell.
Here’s Jimmy the songwriter talking about where the track came from:
I spent most of my late teens and early 20's obsessed with high-level ice and alpine climbing, and I traveled quite a bit chasing that obsession. On my last international climbing trip to Switzerland 6 years ago, I was climbing with a group of 3 professional Polish alpinists, and I ended up falling head-over-heels in love with one of them. Her name was Magdalena, and she was a redheaded fireball who also happened to be the girlfriend of one of the other climbers. Things got messy, she ended up leaving him and flying to America to visit me and check out the potential of moving here.
Fast forward, she wanted to marry to get a green card, but I had recently gotten divorced and was a bit skeptical and jaded about the institution of marriage at that point. I freaked out, things derailed and crashed -- badly and messily. Her brother and dad decided to drive down from Warsaw to Krakow to console her over the breakup, and they ended up getting killed by a semi-truck that crossed the median and hit them head on. She blamed me -- still does as far as I know -- and out of that despair and the feeling of helplessness when she cut off all communication and I didn't even know if she was still alive...out of those feelings this song came out. Like the lyrics say, I was actually literally smoking a hand-rolled cigarette in the snow under the streetlight in front of the house where I lived when the lyrics started flowing through my head.
I mean - just - just - damn!!!!!
I’ve shared this story with a number of people and the response is always the same - pure shock and horror at quite how cruel life can be. And regardless of intent and regardless of responsibility - you can see how such a tragic chain of events becomes a crucible for epic levels of blame and guilt.
Guilt that can drive you insane.
My friend Sharon from Grief Reiki will tell you that grief is often unresolved guilt, as someone who’s lived through the death of two loved ones through suicide she has a great perspective on this. If you’re ever in a situation - even remotely - resembling something like this - I highly recommend reaching out to someone who has experience in this area and who can help - you don’t have to live with the guilt and there are people who can help you with that.
It’s songs like these that I live for - that no matter how they are recorded or produced - shine through with a visceral honesty and energy that touches you deeply inside. That Jimmy was able to transmute what must have been one of the worst experiences of his life into something of true beauty - well - that gives me hope.
And as I’ve said before - First The Winter is a very hopeful band!
First The Winter TakeOver
We’re giving up the Music to Grieve To Social Profiles to Jimmy and Aili this week - they’re a lovely couple (and much happier in real life than their music might predict!) - so do go check them out - they’re the real deal. We also did a little interview with them earlier this year which you might find interesting:
You can learn more about First the Winter here:
About the Curator - Andrew McCluskey
The first visual memory I have is that of the white upright piano in Singapore, Hell and the Dark Forces lived at the bottom, Heaven and the Angels at the top, they would play battles through my fingers and I was hooked.
As a psychology graduate I studied how sound affects human performance.
As a musician I compose instrumental music that stimulates your brain but doesn't mess with your language centers, leaving you free to be creative and brilliant without distraction.
As the founder of musicto I’m on a mission to inspire a global audience of music lovers and artists through the development of people powered playlists.