Blood and guts
A song about summer in Portland posted on about the least summer-like day Portland has seen, a welcome reprieve
I use this overlay for Gmail that just rolled out AI summaries for emails. I ran it on this post and here's what it said:
"Colin Meloy from The Machine Shop wrote a song called 'July July!' about a road that meets the road that goes to his house and the story of a crooked French Canadian relative who was gut-shot running gin. The song also mentions chickens, ghosts, and blood. (6 min saved)"
Is "chicken chains" the most questioned lyric? Unscientifically, from my own experience and memory of various fan groups, interviews and pre-show Q&As I think so, but would love any other suggestions ("bone drab," etc.)
For lyrics, the previous version of the band site still exists if you use a backdoor link, and the Discography section has very good lyrics (click album, click song). There's a few mistakes and omissions but it's vastly superior than anything else online.
At the Edgefield show last year I was hoping for it as it was probably your most well known song that I hadn’t managed to catch live before. That you opened the set with it was particularly special.
The magenta being a memory of a color reminded me of that thesis that said magenta is not a color but a perception of a color or something like that.
I always thought the blood rolling down the drain was the French Canadian's. In fact, that's my interpretation and I'm stickin' to it.
I think I always vaguely pictured chickens on chain leashes, like someone was taking them out for a pleasant walk. My historical favorite Decemberists internet lyric transcription was from a site that had the line from Don’t Carry It All as “so let the YOLK fall from our shoulders” 🍳
Wow! I always had this down in my head as some sort of farm with a lovely farm house in the middle of somewhere with no other houses for miles and miles. I imagined a very dry dusty red/brown road with a crossroad and one of the roads went to this house.
A field of chickens next to it. And the sun burning away in a clear blue sky. 🤷
Thank you. You've annotated two of my favorite songs now. It's a weird feeling. Both this and Grace Cathedral hill conjure such vivid imagery for me. I'm happy that your annotations embellished those images and didn't contradict them. Beating a happy dance in my special boots.
“We’ll remember this when we are old and ancient / though the specifics might be vague” is perhaps my favorite decemberists lyric of all. Thanks for this annotation, Colin.
Theses are all so wonderful to read but for some reason this really hit home. It makes me think I could write songs too and pick up a guitar and make good music. As always, thank you .
Love this song, love the annotation!
There’s a “green grass” reference on “Birds of My Neighborhood,” too.
I enjoy your enthusiasm putting these thoughts and memories out. Thank you.
Maybe I liked it better when I didn't know what "chicken chains" meant. But I still like the way it sounds. I mean this as a compliment, but Colin, you are Weird! From a fellow weirdo!
Love these notes! This is easily one of my top 5 Decemberists songs - I would love a guitar lesson on this - as I tried to play this at my neighborhood labor day party years ago - and found it difficult to strum the chords while singing "July, July!"