Hey there Machinists — apologies for the spare content this week on the Machine Shop; I’ve been a bit hither and thither. HOWEVER, I am here now and thought it was high time to open things up for questions again, if you’’ve got ‘em. Fire away!
Hey folks, that's all I have time for today -- but hold on to these q's and I'll get to 'em next time! Ta ta!
I've not seen you talk about Tarkio much. That band produced two of my favorite songs and I would love to hear about any experiences from that time.
Look this is not a deep question but I think about Erick and Cheryl and Maya Angelou a lot and I’m wondering if you still have them lol
In the song "Sons & Daughters", I curious about the lines "We'll build our walls aluminum
We'll fill our lives with cinnamon now." When I was about 8 (60 years ago) the 2 words I had the most trouble pronouncing was cinnamon and aluminum. I would walk and repeat the words "cinnamon and aluminum" over and over and over again.
Where did the lines come from?
The USA is on the verge of collapse as a nation. Yay or nay and wtf are we supposed to do? Can we come live on the farm (jk. But also...wow it sucks here).
I would love to know anything you have to share about the creation and production of the Hazards of Love album! I read a review once regarding it lovingly as “Meloy going full Meloy,” and I’ve always just wanted to know more about how you came up with it.
My kid wants to know what you put on a bagel. I want to know how much is the band involved in shaping Decemberists songs? How collaborative is your process when it comes to writing, melody, arrangements, etc?
What are the chances of new Offa Rex music? I need more of it in my life; it's stellar stuff.
Weirdly specific question about Apology Song - what is the word sang before "joy ride"? Hecsher's? Hesherous? I've always pictured the two naughty neighborhood Hescher brothers having heaved the bike into the pond after their thieving and joy-riding was complete.
In an interview you once said video games are your least favorite habit. Not to ask you to dwell on that which is your least favorite, but…what games have absorbed you the most? 👀
i was noticing you posted an insta pic with elliott smith & had wondered if you knew him well or had any stories to share? i was one of many who spent years over at the old 'sweet addy' elliott smith forum (i was friendlyghost there) where we usually obsessed over his song lyrics & interesting guitar playing style, & it was there that i first heard about you & your music :) thanks..
So awesome, Colin! My question is about your song process: I always feel like I’m getting a vocab lesson with your songs. Do you use a dictionary as you’re writing your lyrics?
On another note, I can’t wait to see you on my birthday, Aug 24 at Wolf Trap. I’ll be in the VIP section and would be over the moon if you stole my phone and called my mom while singing Culling… just saying….
What turns a good show into a great show for you? What sets apart a great crowd and venue? Thanks!
Could you speak about the creation of “A Beginning Song”. Love the song it really moves me. Also love that “A Beginning Song” is the last track on the album.
Who the deep voiced 'he's not' and 'see ya later' backing vocal on anti-summersong?
Is there a catalog of lyrics somewhere
? I’d like to sign along…correctly.
What are your thoughts about Nirvana's Kurt Cobain as a song writer? Of course Kurt's loss was really tragic. I know that they have had a resurgence in popularity in recent years, I'm don't mean that. Just as a songwriter opining about another songwriter. Colin about Kurt. I've thought I wish I could have heard a Kurt cover of "I Was Meant for the Stage." Please take this any direction you might wish.
Thank you so much for your pioneering efforts with the machine shop sub stack format!!!
This is just because I'm watching LEGOcon right now - are the Meloys LEGO fans? If so, any favorite sets?
Hi Colin, two June Hymn questions: 1. What does "in the boom" refer to? 2. What does "this old light isn't ambling anymore" mean? Thanks.
Is there ever a chance of you (solo Colin) or The Decemberists ever covering a few Tarkio songs? I know you covered Devil's Elbow on your "Sings Live!" album and "My Mother was Chinese Trapeze Artist" made it onto 5 Songs.
I'd love to hear a new interpretation of "Save Yourself", "Keeping me awake", or "Better Half", but am unsure how you or the band feel about revisiting your old work. Maybe at the Wiltern in August ;-P, haha.
My family and I are in London right now on vacation and I couldn’t help but notice how much of your lyrics seem to be written as someone from 19th century England. As we toured London Bridge, I even saw that Engine Driver was a position when the bridge first opened. Where did the fascination for that period begin? Was it a particular book that got you going? Did anyone in the band ever express skepticism on how a song about a mariner out on sea, for instance, may not play well with the young-uns?
Would you tell me more about Davy? I’ve always imagined him as the village fool who was mentally and physically disabled (those crooked legs), but whom everyone loved and sort of took care of. I picture his death as something somewhat tragic but foolish, like drowning (went in the water despite not knowing how to swim), or falling down the well his mother warned him against visiting.
I love how the whole village is helping bury him, and there seems to be a sense that they all knew this was coming, sooner or later, but they’re all still quite sad, of course.
Just wondering what Davy’s back story was, and if I’m close in my imagination of who he was.
(Reposting from the last Q & A)
Hi Colin! I'm always curious about an artist's process of choosing which songs make the album and which don't, and then how to sequence the ones chosen. How do you and the band go about it?
My pet Decemberist wonderings about this concern how you decided to leave Perfect Crime #1/The Day I Knew... and After the Bombs off Crane Wife and then the decision to split up the Crane Wife sections and sequence the album in that manner.
(Also thank you so much for all the music and beauty)
While there are so many of your songs that I like, one that stands out is A Record Year for Rainfall. I just love playing the two discordant chords at the beginning. Of course, living in California instead of Portland the title leads people to expect a more happy song. Could you give some background of how this song came about and your feelings about it?
Hey! Thanks for doing these. 2 questions:
1. You often have your eyes closed when you’re singing. Is that because you’re trying to avoid eye contact with the front row? Or do you have the notes and lyrics scrolling like the Star Wars story crawl in your mind?
2. Can you give high-school yearbook style superlatives to everyone in the band?
Do you and the rest of the band get together between tours to just jam and play together or are you all too busy as to make that difficult without lots of planning?
How involved are you with the show to be based on your Wildwood series and how closely will it stay true to the book itself? My daughter and I are currently reading through the series and look forward to the show.
Hey Colin, I'm a theatre professional and I've always wondered exactly which songs and what the through-line was going to be for that musical about the Butte miners. Rox in the Box, the two Hymns, Burying Davy, etc; I'd love to know how things would have looked if you'd have been able to wrestle all that into a theatrical form.
Of all the cities you’ve played in which one has your favorite food? (So not a music question ha)
Hi Colin I am wondering what the story is behind 'Cutting Stone ' I love it, the simplicity and the feel of it. Also I can easily play it at my local acoustic music clubs here in West Sussex UK
Would there happen to be any spare Barger Rothery patches in the known universe? There's a guy in my mirror who says he'd pay a good deal for one. And given how much he's bought from that era, and how close he says he was to winning that scavenger hunt, I wouldn't put it past him.
Will you be releasing any more copies of Colin Meloy Sings Together (Collected EPs 2005 - 2013) on vinyl?
Ahh I just woke up and saw you were doing this! Damn working nights! Anyway if you’re still out there: is the line in the bridge of The Bagman’s Gambit, “you were there in fours” and what does that mean?
Sometime in HS I discovered Robyn Hitchcock and was particularly a big fan of Globe of Frogs. Have you ever collaborated with him, and could you ever be convinced to do Balloon Man, because I'm convinced you guys could do it justice.
Is the “Colin Meloy Sings Together” vinyl a real thing? I saw rumblings on a few record stores sites, but all sold out. Will it be formally announced?
I LOVE Tarkio. It is my “go to” music when riding my bike to work. Singing “Helena won’t get stoned” really loud is much better than yelling “on your left”.
Was listening to CA 1 yesterday and was wondering if you always had the transition in mind when formatting the song? Or did it start as just the first 6 min and grow into the full song as it stands now?
Hi Colin! There’s a release going around some small record stores’ preorder lists called Colin Meloy Sings Together and they don’t seem to know if it’s real or their distributors don’t have any information on it. I preordered it in case it’s real, but anything you can share about it? Thank you!
Hi Colin, are you a fan of The Delines? I believe some Decembrists folks have played and are playing in that band. I was big fan of Richmond Fontaine and Wille's novels, but never got to see the band as they always seemed to be in Europe on tour and didn't make it down to CA much. Anyway, coming up Portland to see them with Minus 5 on the 30th this month. I really like their sound. If other Machinists haven't checked them out, it would be well worth to catch them at Alabama Studios before they...head off to Europe :(. Anyway, thanks for all the song tutorials. June Hymn really made my day... :)
I'd also like to chime in and express some love for Tarkio. Keeping me Awake and Better Half are favorites of mine! I love the sound of the Violin on that album.
Can't wait to see you all in Boston! Roadrunner is a great new venue, glad you ended up there. Also excited for my first standing only Decemberists show, I've found myself being the only person standing and dancing just about everytime I've seen ya. I think I remember some banter from you informing the Buffalo crowd a few years back that they were "a rather sedentary audience"
...people stood and danced after that, haha
Hello there- hope I haven’t missed the proverbial boat- writing to you from marseille where pirates abound and accordion fills the streets
What’s your preference on people singing along at your shows? I always wonder cause I always want to loudly but then worry about disrupting. Please share your thoughts on this!
My best friend wrote a play based on "On the Bus Mall." It is a huge passion project for him lasting years of revisions and deep thoughts on the lyrics and LGBTQ themes. He's a recent machinist but also a busy doctor so I know he may not get to ask this question but: would you give your blessing on the project? I know it would mean a whole lot to him to know that you knew about the play and approved of it. Thanks for everything!
Would you consider teaching an in-person songwriting class here in Portland? I’m signed up for one in Nashville during your Ryman weekend but would love to learn from you closer to home. Happy to help TA!
Hi Colin! Greetings from Chile! Many thanks for the Machine shop, such a unique place!!! I was wondering if you could talk a bit about the genesis of the name and the cover of "What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World"
hi colin! hope you are doing well ❤️
california one/youth and beauty brigade is on my top 5 favorite songs list and i’ve always wondered, what is your connection to the film “Archangel” and how did you choose to put the quote into the song? it’s such a nice detail and it always gives me the chills when i hear it.
I was first made aware of you when someone commented that I resemble you quite closely. Has anyone said you resemble anyone else or mistaken you for another musician ?
Do you attribute what‘s often mistaken for an English accent in your singing voice to a lot of the music you listened to and sang along with growing up?
Hey Colin, just wondering if there's anything Decemberisty on the horizon??
Do you feel your approach to songwriting is teachable? Is there a generally similar process you go through for the majority of your songs?
Any fun stories or interesting anecdotes from having a song show up in James Gunn’s Suicide Squad?