I first listened to “Carissa” on a bitterly cold and snowy day in North Carolina. I was snowed in with the wife, working from home on the couch, watching the snow blanket our normally green and sunny area with a silky-smooth coating of fresh powder. Strangely, a neighbor (I’m guessing) skied down our street for exercise I suppose, giving a slightly surreal feel to the moment, because let’s face it, someone cross-country-skiing down a neighborhood road in NC is a fucking odd sight.
As Mark Kozelek sang, I realized how each of his releases, dating back to his Red House Painters days, have created lasting musical moments for me. And until this one, I would relate that fact back to sheer coincidence, and that his songs just happen to be playing when memories seem to form.
But his newest effort Benji derails that train of thought, and I now realize that it’s the songs that make the moment, and more than anything, it’s his songwriting style that makes things truly stick in my brain. Sun Kil Moon songs include more a conversation than lyrics, meaning words don’t rhyme, or even fit that well together sometimes, but more than any other artist, the subject matter of his songs lingers beyond that of melody and old-school iambic pentameter.
See what I mean below — Carissa dies taking out the trash. How…I’ll let him tell you how.