Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
There's a 7-inch record that Mike & Ruthy, a folk duo from Woodstock, New York, recently released with a stunning letter-pressed cover of the New York City skyline. It's wonderful to look at and it's great to run a couple fingers over. You feel the lines and the pressure that it took to make them deep enough, to make them hold into that paper, to keep their form.
It's like running fingers over the veins of an arm or two. It's like taking some fingers over the creases in a face that keeps accumulating them less gradually than it used to. They're coming faster and they're setting in deeper and deeper with every passing day, through no choice of the face's owner. How there isn't any possible alternative is widely known, but the choice of one would likely be rejected as vanity anyway. The roadmaps that grow onto our skin, or just under it, are impervious. They're permanent. The music here is a testament to the times that were already lived and will be forever cherished. You don't want to redo them and you don't want them back. You want them to remain etched, but that's it.
A song such as "My New York City" reinforces the idea, drawing the scene for the city as the place where two people found each other and that's how they'll always remember the city, even if it's never the same way again, even if half a lifetime's plodded on. They'll feel their pulses quicken as they enter the city limits and get close to specific intersections, or sit in specific restaurants. It must be overwhelming to be a widow or widower who achieves such a long life, where they've seen so much change around them and still, they can feel the presence of their lost love, just the way it used to be, with every ginger step they take, in every place they used to previously be. It must be tragic and exhilarating.
Mike & Ruthy songs take us into these spaces where beautiful things smolder and where loves can be delightfully taken for granted, where they feel so easy because they are so easy. One wonders why some people have to try so hard, why it's such hard work to make love last. It should be as easy as tracing veins and wrinkles and feeling like you're always home.