Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Patrick Stolley at Futureappletree Too
Lawrence, Kansas' Cowboy Indian Bear, on its surface is an example of the cycle as it applies to the struggle or the impulse. The cowboys were after the Indians and the Indians were after the bears, which could kill all of the above on the right day, with the sun shining the right way or the night giving them the blanket of cover needed to mount a sneak attack. It's almost as if one couldn't exist without the other. More properly, it's probably that one wouldn't want to exist without the others around - for the sport of it and for the confirmation of purpose.
The band, made up of Beau Bruns, Charles Calhoun, Katlyn Conroy and Martinez Hillard finds itself writing about a similarly circular game that's just like some teeth chasing a tail or a gun chasing one. It makes no difference what the specifics are. It's just that one begets the other and vice versa. There are no eggs and no chickens here. This was a bit of evolution and this was a God resting on the seventh day both sort of thing. Good luck figuring it all out.
All that matters is that we're all stuck with the results and it's a real mess sometimes. The songs of Cowboy Indian Bear make us savor the beast a little bit. We like what's being concocted down in the red pools of those hearts that we hang in our chests. It's these damned hearts that short out and sputter, but then sometimes amaze the hell out of us at other times. We follow them and they lead us into the bottom of a lake or they take us right where we wanted to go, some place that might even be better than we ever thought it would be when we started down the road - with the mouth open and the tail getting a head start.
They sing about wanting a stranger's heart, as if that could make anything better. They're all just as indecisive as the next one and they all have their problems and their wanderings. It's suggested here that someone else's heart would offer a new lease, something better, if it could be implanted and replace what used to be lodged there inside the ravaged body, as if it were a frozen turkey or a boulder. The new heart would act as potting soil and tender loving care to bring something shiny and sunnier to this area of such ugly and cold topography. It would be born anew and then the ticker tape would fly. The new car smell would overtake that of the basement, of mildew and rot and things would bloom. It's sung in a slowly proceeding, sad jazz way that seems to point to the rainy days and the freezing machine actions continuing as they want to. Picking a heart is just picking a different poison and yet, there's no doing without them, so you just swallow hard and stay alert. Watch for the bears and the bullets.
*Essay originally published December, 2011