Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Scene: Outside a window where the night temperatures have fallen dramatically from where they were earlier in the afternoon. The grass is getting crunchy and there's light breaking sharply from the bottom edge of a window, hitting the lawn in a broken, pale yellow rectangle. One can make out the figure of a man, short and with a full beard, trimmed recently. He's looking out from behind a tree, halfway hidden and halfway not caring anymore if he's seem. Something inside him almost hopes that he will be spotted, for then he could say something, for then he could spit out the words that have literally been eating him alive. Loud sighs are audible above the lonely silence and the eyes barely blind at all, just looking, just hurting. Music is cued and the song, "Veins Lined With Rust," comes on, lightly, in the background. We can see now that the bearded man behind the tree has begun singing. It's White Birds lead singer James Harvey and these are his words, "Saw you through the window of our house/Saw you and my veins were lined with rust/Saw you and my veins were lined with/Saw you and my veins were lined with rust/Cause I saw that you had given up on us/And now I'm waiting for you to say the words/And all I'm wanting is for you to say the words/All that I can do is wait/All that I can do is wait for you." They move timidly toward the windowpane, where the glow and moving about of those two people are. He looks in and he sees something that resembles the happiness that he used to have with her. It looks better than he ever remembered it looking, even in hindsight. She looks altogether oblivious that there is anything that she should be missing. She isn't hurting or hurt. She is the model of contentment. Harvey, outside and shivering, is reduced to mental tatters. He holds onto the tree beside him more and more tightly, as if he was going to fall over. He totters some, but holds his balance. The lights fade as the moon plays on.
White Birds music is a constant reminder of those things that happen that put the lumps in our throats and the pits in our bellies. We just turn them over and over, but they essentially have to dislodge themselves, or have to wind themselves back down like those painful legs cramps do. Harvey, piano player Farzad Houshiarnejad and drummer Mike Cammarata, bring us to these places where we hate to linger. They are the places that are most helpful in beginning to build the bags beneath our eyes. There is the sound of multi-part harmonies and then there are the contents of the lyrics, which always come back to the point where we've done something irreversibly wrong or had something of the sort done unto us. Harvey sings on "Floating Hands," "Woke up from a deep sleep/Cause I felt a hand try to touch me/My heart is beating/Beating out of my skull/From a hand that I cut off/I don't know if she'll ever let this go/Fingers and her palms fingers and her palms tightening up/She won't ever let it go." It's a loss and it's the burn and it's hanging around outside that window, looming.