Friday, November 14, 2008

The Aristocrats: Dark-Eyed Prince

Danny Schmidt: Dark-Eyed Prince


I won’t regale you with a laundry list of songwriter competition wins/runners-up… or glowing reviews of his 5 (soon to be 6) CDs… plus a songbook (which, even though I am the furthest thing from a singer/performer, I bought because I love his writing style so much) – I will, however, tell you one of Danny Schmidt's songs, Company of Friends, was quoted in Rob Brezsny’s Free Will Astrology horoscopes (scroll down to Leo, which I am, by the way)… high praise indeed…

Touring musician friend/Waterbug Records founder/president Andrew Calhoun (who I used to book gigs for) is my personal E. F. Hutton of the folk world - when Andrew speaks (Jonathan Byrd, Anais Mitchell, Jack Harris, etc.), I listen! He told me about Danny Schmidt four years ago and I've been enjoying ever since - in fact, soon after, I took part of my commission in DS CDs!

There’s just something about Danny’s rough-yet-tender voice, his incisive guitar-playing and his insightful lyrics that invoke a lump-in-the-throat effect on me… not to mention his penchant for the pun - to borrow a word from the aforementioned Company of Friends, I am smitten...

Parables & Primes remains my favorite, maybe because it was my first… perfectly produced, equally rich and tasteful. In Danny’s own words, about the songs on that CD in general, and Dark-Eyed Prince specifically:

1) They're written metaphorically and symbolically and in allegory and in parable. There are very few moments on this album that, if you can take them literally at all, don't represent something else, also. They're not all story songs, but I think they all pay homage, at least, to the sneaky power of story telling -- that a sharp-fanged truth might better sneak into the house wearing a pretty red hood.

2) They deal with deep-down-in-your-marrow sort of primal themes. They, for the most part, speak to love and loneliness and mortality and health and hunger and the dirty and the divine. These aren't toaster oven songs. These are more fire circle songs. More dirt floor than linoleum. The topics are really pretty basic. Indivisible level kinds of things. Primes, in my mind -- late at night, anyway.

Dark-Eyed Prince: This is a character sketch, basically -- of a poor conflicted soul who keeps trying to reach out and then keeps retreating back into his castle. The painting on the cover sorta struck me as reminiscent of the Dark-Eyed Prince.

Interestingly, when I first saw the cover of the CD, it reminded me of Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s work… as I’ve had his Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn portraits (“the vegetable gents”, as my friend Laurie says) in my kitchen for decades – yet one more reason to love Danny…

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