I have a confession to make. Kate Chopin is one of my favorite authors. I remember the first time I read her most critically-acclaimed novel The Awakening. I’m not a feminist and obviously, not a woman but I nevertheless found the novel touching. For those of you haven’t read it, it’s a story about rebelling against the expectations that society places on us. The main character Edna Pontellier leaves her husband in an attempt to shed her role as a mother and wife to better discover her true self. As a result, Edna finds herself completely and utterly alone, ostracized by everyone around her. Due to lack of societal support and her self-inflicted isolation, Edna commits suicide at the end of the novel, rather dying than giving in to what is the norm. I won’t lie to you, it’s a heavy read but also a brilliant story, much in the same vain as our track of the week “Lone Bulb” by Crooked Cat Adams.
Every once in a while, out of all the submissions I receive, there is a song and an artist that is offering more both lyrically and musically than your average pop tune. Mind you, even though I receive quite a few great tracks every week, there aren’t many submissions that are so filled with content that they simply cry out to be covered in my blog. “Lone Bulb” is one such track. In fact, rather than just a track, the song’s an experience, a journey, a snapshot of the life of a woman called Angie.
Angie's in the corner
Watching through a dream
Floats like a ghost
On a TV screen
As it dies away
No songs are played
The room is dark
As the lone bulb sways
Down the cobblestone streets
Looks straight through
Every face she meets
Just what she sees
She's looking far away
To where a lone bulb burns
Says Crooked Cat Adams:
So, as far as the lyrics, they kind of follow a narrative in which a young lady, Angie, starts by dreaming of an innocent and beautiful moment, before waking to her reality, which sees her in the midst of emotional and psychic turmoil. In my mind, and maybe not implicit in the lyrics, she is in the throws of a psychotic break. She looks beyond everyone and everything, halfway in her terrible now, and halfway between dream or even death. The last part of the song she walks into the ocean, not necessarily a suicide, but just a sudden impulse. She sees something beautiful beyond the horizon, something pure and innocent, and swims or sinks below the ocean.
Unpacking all of that, I see Angie's last moments as living in that thin membrane between life and death, where something so sudden (and simple), an action or a decision, can swing the pendulum either way.
This, of course, is exactly the way The Awakening ends when Edna Pontellier walks into the ocean, never to return.
Musically the song is fantastic. Listening to it is like discovering a long-lost folk masterpiece from the sixties. Instrumentally speaking, “Lone Bulb” is rather a modest affair but then again, it’s not how many instruments you use, it’s how you use them and Crooked Cat Adams with the help of producer Matt Miller sure knows how to craft a majestic pop tune with just the very basics. I love the double-tracked vocals and harmonies that add to the retro flavor of the tune. In addition, the electric guitars are arranged beautifully, adding dynamics to the song in just the right places. And folks, there’s even a tambourine on this one, something you don’t hear all that often anymore – love it.
Just like all relevant and true artists, Crooked Cat Adams presents life as it is: a complicated affair. In fact, there’s nothing simple about it. I’ve often wondered how my life would have turned out had I made different decisions. Would I be happier, healthier or utterly miserable? These are hard questions to answer. It seems that regardless of the choices we make, we somehow always end up at least a bit like Angie, looking through every face we meet and floating like ghosts, attempting to see light at the end of the tunnel – even when there isn’t any.
The rule of thumb seems to be: People with high expectations get bitterly disappointed as will people who depend on others for happiness. There’s very little anyone can do about that. What I am beginning to understand about life is that it is so much more about controlling the mind than it is about controlling the surroundings. As Buddha himself put it:
The mind is everything. What we think we become.
Be that as it may, if you are into folk or retro-flavored music, you should definitely check out Crooked Cat Adams. It’s music that doesn’t bow to the current trends but also music that’s real, deep and honest, pondering on issues of solitude, depression and isolation. Crooked Cat Adams is an artist that I have returned to countless times since I first heard his music and I’m confident the very same will happen to you if you click play. Pay attention to his lyrics. I found myself in them. I’m sure you will too.
You can learn more about Crooked Cat Adams here:
About the curator - Tommi Tikka
Tom Tikka is a linguist, poet, professional songwriter, recording artist and a music aficionado. He started playing guitar when he was four and writing songs when he was six. Consequently, he doesn't remember a time when he wasn't playing or writing. It's fair to say, music and lyrics are not just something he loves to engage himself in; to him, they are a way of life.