the darling parts of May

by John Alan Kennedy & Amy Annelle

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i'd had the title 'the darling parts of May' floating in my back pocket for a lot of years before i met Amy. i was just getting to know her but already had an immense respect for her creative predilections and her impeccable songcraft: raw, organic, deep, connected to the world around us and the world inside. i texted her the title and asked her if she'd be interested in writing a song using 'the darling parts of May' as title or line. she said yes. it wasn't even 10 minutes later & she'd already gifted up the lyrics here. i thought we might make a pretty good team.

some weeks later i was at her house & we decided to work on a song together. i had just nabbed a short but evocative sample of a fortuitous record skipping around some horns. i fleshed it out, re-pitching, doubling, re-harmonizing. kalimba seemed to sound pretty good with it so i did a quick take, and then another take to add the bass drum. things were moving fast. we were just using the mics on my laptop to record but it made it easy to work fast. i also recorded a track of wheezing squeezebox - i liked it, but Amy was never convinced.

Amy laid down the vocals, and after spending a couple of minutes trying things on the piano, she was ready to do a take. the front door was open for the whole process and the sounds of the night-wooded forest leaked in. you can hear the jingling tags of Amy's dog Arrow about haflway through. i took the recording home and layered on 4 or 5 tracks of snare drum. i did some mixes, we critiqued, and we both liked it but weren't sure what to do with it yet, we weren't sure what we were gonna do with each other yet. the days rolled by, i started learning her repertoire. it was fun to play short compact songs after so many years of playing free improv. it had been almost 2 years since i had recorded all the drums & percussion for the songs on my album 'That's Curiosity' and, being mixed shades of shy and insecure, it was nice to be able to sit in the background and contribute to somebody else's treasure trove of song.

so, yeah, 6 months of us learning to play together, and starting to tour Texas, and then Covid-19 shows up. It was hard to take, really disappointing, even though we know we are infinitely more fortunate than many. i had even been on the verge of starting to play acoustic guitar sets of my own songs, something i'd wanted to do for years, but was unable to muster the courage. (i released these songs a few days ago on the album 'Imaginary Country') the last few months we've been holed up in Austin, built a chicken coop for 5 little critters (the chicks ended up in full color glory on the pages of the New York Times before they'd even graduated out of their box incubator?!)...fast forward to yesterday, when we started talking about maybe releasing this song. it was May again after all. i mastered one of my old mixes last night and we both thought it sounded pretty nice, so, here we are.

lyrics

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THE DARLING PARTS OF MAY

my, my my: how the eye of heaven shines.
gray, luminous. gray, luminous.

a golden-rimmed disc which desires unfastened hearts.
desire unfastens hearts.

yes, here now are the darling parts of may, they
scatter and coalesce. scatter and coalesce.

sweet sighs, deep breaths.
sweet sighs, deep breaths.

he walks ellipses, parted lips.
may gives way, while june persists.

she walks ellipses, newborn, wet.
with all the ways he’ll love her yet.

my, my, my: how the eye of heaven shines.
gray, luminous. gray, luminous.
gray, luminous. gray, luminous.

credits

released May 20, 2020
Amy Annelle - lyrics, voice, piano
John Alan Kennedy - sampling, kalimba, percussion, mix

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the cover photo i took in July, 2019 along the banks of the James River in central Texas, near sunset, while we were waiting for a million bats to burst out of a cave. i think it was the 4th of July.

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John Alan Kennedy Houston, Texas

Brains like music. Take advantage while you can.

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