Words by Sean Moeller // Illustration by Johnnie Cluney // Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
It might be that Steve Poltz is bat shit crazy. No, on second thought, he's probably not. He's fine, just a regular Joseph. Or is he? Nope, he's fucking nuts, demented - but screwed up on endorphins and sugary cereals, draft beers and a generally harmful amount of sleep deprivation. You'll go back and forth between the original thought and the counter thought as you make your way through any of his albums, or witness any of his live shows. His songs have so much of everything in them that it's impossible to know what to make of this long-time troubadour - a confessed foodie, a liver and a lifer who spends a lot of his time now playing live shows wherever anyone will have him, which is just about any conceivable spot, in any conceivable town. He's unafraid of saying yes to just about everything and giving himself a great chance of coming away from the experience with one of the many moments that he owns which are stranger than fiction and completely true. He's unafraid of letting the ticker-tape train of thoughts that are sliding across the screen of his frontal lobe at all times of the day and night just take over for him, turning themselves into the unabated stream of consciousness spilled out in lyrical form. He must have ten songs ready to be written at any given moment, just tugging on his tongue, gnawing at his mind, just whimpering and causing a scene to get themselves a birth date.
Poltz, who is oddly most famous for dating a beautiful, fledgling songwriter from Alaska named Jewel and co-writing one of her most well-received early singles, has a way of giving all ideas and moments equal time and billing, just giving us all of the raw material in one long scroll and letting us process it. His songs are unabridged transcripts of his daily meanderings and the kooky things that he bumps into when the days get long in the mouth, when they get blurry and strange. They are everything and the kitchen sink, line after line of unedited monologues and asides. He finds it to be natural to take every silly or insignificant tangent that one strays off onto and just throw them into a crock pot, making a stew with all of these keen examples of what it must be to live inside his head. It's a circus and a hotel lobby, a place where dog shit and caviar are showed the same kind of respect, where the Menendez brothers are still relevant and considered, where boogers are punch lines again, where we learn more about a single man than most people could possibly know about themselves.
Most of us don't think so deeply about ourselves or if we do, we censor out all of the really, really nerdy things we think, keeping or even communicating the ones that we find ourselves thinking other people will deem significant. Most of us don't allow our inner conversations, the mumbles that roam within to go unchecked and leaked out into songs. But Poltz doesn't always play the joker card. He wouldn't have made it this long, just being off-the-wall. Somehow what he writes - even in its twisted humor and with its odd and rambling references - is still dynamic and functional, able to be snuggled with and taken as our own. It could be because these are some of the same things that we let pass. We think them and then they are gone like a vapor, lost to capacity issues - we can't keep everything. We can hoard and hoard, but eventually there's a spring-cleaning. Or we choose not to hoard. Poltz hoards and he stores, but never for long because he doesn't let the miscellany gather and clutter. He opens his mouth and lets it fall out, into a song, and it's as shameless and intriguing as it could ever possibly be. He is a character for every day/minute of his life and then some.