Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Caroline Smith has probably devoured a lot of Flannery O'Connor short stories in her time, letting the Southern gothic, Depression-era mindset get into her, to make her weary of the hardships and the people that bring them on. These people are predominantly immature men and they do insensitive, idiotic things as if they're only capable of buffoonery and crushing beer cans against the side of their heads with a grunt and a groan. She believes that a good man is as hard to find as O'Connor does and it's a weighty thing. It's as if the good ones are without their goods for the longest time, like an incubation period that has no known ending date. So they ferment and sit there, just being worthless and disgusting until the day that they're less so, when they can be taken places and shown off as usable members of society and worthy sources of companionship. They're finally stable enough to not make as many fart noises by sinking their cupped palms down the collar of their t-shirts and under their armpits. It takes a long time for that to happen, so what Smith and other mature women do is they deal with the immaturities and the fart noises, putting up with the riff raff, waiting it out until there's some sort of payout and shared adulthood. Smith and her band, the Good Night Sleeps, ring the triteness out of these man-boys by making it sound like the light, hissing sighs of a tea kettle just burbling and rocking into a boil, the steam escaping in a low howl before the freakout. She stomps and she emotes, but it's in a very collected and settling way, as if she's made amends with the prospects of having to make it through all of the duds before getting to the good ones. She sings with such a unique pinch to her voice - a come hither warble that predates her body by generations and generations -- and the music comes wonderfully like a lazy locomotive, giving it the subtlest brawn and lung power, giving her the confident horsepower that she casually exudes in bringing these doldrums and dolts to light. It's as if there's a low and full moon hanging above her words and melodies, servicing them with the electricity that they need to do the rest, to be as sharp and as bummed out as they need to be. She begins the song "Closing the Doors" - and continues it until the very end - dragging on the futility of the men that she and those others that she knows come into contact with all the time. She sings, "When the men will be boys and the girls sing the chorus again," hoping that there will be a time when everything will change and there will be a legitimate reason to find love in one of those men instead of another case of mothering. Time passes during the song and eventually there's a reckoning and a prophetic conclusion that there will be life "when the men all grow up and all the girls start to see a new day," and that's what's out there, what could be. Until then, Smith and her other staring-at-the-moon friends will just wear out the time until then even though the wait aches.