No Hits 11.7.05
"But the thing is, the marvelous thing is, when you first start doing it, you don't even have to have faith in what you're doing. I mean even if you're terribly embarrassed about the whole thing, it's perfectly all right. I mean you're not insulting anybody or anything. In other words, nobody asks you to believe a single thing when you first start out. You don't even have to think about what you're saying, the starets said. All you have to have in the beginning is quantity. Then, later on, it becomes quality by itself."
-J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey
I don't know if you read Franny and Zooey when you were an impressionable teenager and will automatically think of Franny Glass' obsession with the concept of prayer without ceasing--generally translated in Christianity as repetition of the Jesus Prayer--when you first hear Diane Cluck's "Nothing But God." But I did. I was one of those kids for whom Franny's quest, or mental breakdown (depending on your perspective), resonated, growing up as I did in a nice, but passionless kind of progressive Protestant church. An mp3 blog isn't exactly the place to explore questions of theology, but I think we all, at some point, wish for that place of absolute self-negation, freedom from pain and self-consciousness (or even consciousness). Some people look for it literally, in religion--they attempt to become one with God or the universe--I've known plenty to seek it in drugs and booze and, of course, there's music . . .
Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Cluck expresses that seeking brilliantly in this sketch. I say sketch, because "Nothing" appears on The Enlightened Family (US, UK) compilation on Voodoo-EROS (run by Coco Rosie's Bianca Casady). The story behind this project is that various members of the New York neo-folk scene contributed unfinished or "lost" songs, songs that would otherwise remain private. And Cluck's "Nothing" sounds like a private prayer, a solitary meditation or mantra that could be holy or blasphemous. As her intense, lucid voice repeats,
We are lord, nothing but God, nothing but God in the way of itself
accompanied by stark, simple piano chords, each slight alteration in phrasing comes closer and closer . . . to something. But with a running time of only 1:49, we don't know if she gets there. No resolution, just the abrupt click of the tape stopping.
Real Good Time - Diane Cluck
"Real Good Time" is also off Enlightened Family and is probably more representative of Cluck's work, betraying her professed admiration of Kate Bush. Tomorrow, Cluck releases a new album, Countless Times (US, UK).