026: Joanna Newsom

This week we are talking about the one, the only…Joanna Newsom!!!  If you don’t know who she is, we invite you in with curiosity as we discuss this critically-claimed harpist, lyricist, and musician who is NO SMALL THING.

Macie at one point tries to explain Joanna in a few words, “inspiring, colorful, vivid, dramatic, weighty, thoughtful, vulnerable, strong, weathered, thoughtful, ornate…and an onion!” 

Newsom’s work pushes forward new answers to these questions, her complex voice sharpening her complex songcraft in unparalleled ways. Listening to Newsom’s work viscerally feels like hearing an artist born out of time, but who, in turn, sounds utterly timeless.

Liz Pelly, NPR


We begin the episode by explaining a bit about LISTENING. Inviting you, the listener to take a different posture of listening.  Joanna’s music evokes a sense of ‘paying attention’ that almost forces the listener to pause and focus in on her music.  So we invite you to take a deep breath and just enjoy this beautiful performance.

  “It taps into the deepest parts, a true testament to something only real art can do, you will feel things you have never felt before or thought things you have never thought before all simultaneously” –Scott

As Joanna fans we also encourage you to just sit down and read some of Joanna’s lyrics, without the music.  Check out joannanewsomlyrics.com for a hub for ALL her lyrics!

Later in the episode we just POP OFF about Joanna.  Macie shares how she first encountered Joanna by sitting down and listening with her friends a year ago, and how it has been an intimate journey with Joanna ever since.  Scott shares how much the work of listening to Joanna has been worth it as her music has slowly started to ‘click into place’.

Reuven then joins us for a “Reuvenation” aka Rueven’s poetry corner where he shares “A Meadow” by Lucie Brock-Broido.  

We share some listener comments, who took the time to write their favorite Joanna Newsom (even though it seems every lyric should be considered a favorite lyric).  A stand out song from a lot of our commentors (and Macie) is Sawdust & Diamonds,

I wanted to say: Why the long face.
Sparrow, perch and play songs of long face.
Burro, buck and bray songs of long face!
Sing, I will swallow your sadness, and eat your cold clay,
just to lift your long face;
And though it may be madness, I will take to the grave
your precious longface.
And though our bones they may break, and our souls separate —
Why the long face?
And though our bodies recoil from the grip of the soil —
Why the long face?

Scott and Macie end the night by sharing a few specific reflection on the song, ‘Time, As a Symptom’ which is a favorite of both of theirs.  TAAS is a song that encapsulates so many of the themes from Divers while taking seriously the concept of despair providing a beautiful culmination of hope and joy for the listener. 

Joanna’s song, TAAS serves as our benediction and closing for the episode.  Thank you so much for checking it out and listening, we hope that our conversation maybe sparked a little curiosity in you to check out the QUEEN and MUSE that is Joanna Newsom!

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