I sought a theme...
Those masterful images because complete
Grew in pure mind but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles and a broken can...
"The Circus Animal's Desertion," W. B. Yeats
Circus Time - Euros Childs
Death Of A City - Ken Stringfellow
For many years, Euros Childs was a member of critically acclaimed, somewhat commercially disappointing Welsh band Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. I'm no great authority on GZM, but a friend who is hails them for their "classic eulogization of childhood," which seems to drill straight to the heart of their significant appeal. With the band on hiatus, Childs has--like many members of long-time groups suddenly left to their own devices--released a solo album, Chops (US, UK). "Circus Time" is a somber piano ballad, and despite the musician's recent statement that his solo work isn't meant to be "heavy" or "introspective," the track seems built on a bed of disillusionment. Childs marks his paces from disorientation (Had enough of the city), to temporary refuge in a familiar trope of innocence (Won't you slip with me to circus time?), to a kind of regret and resignation (Oh golden sun, my life had just begun). It's hard to grow older, sad to realize that the usual tricks have lost some of their magic.
One of the things that's intriguing about "Circus Time" is its general sense of drifting--its unspecificity of place. In his piano ballad, "Death Of A City," Ken Stringfellow, former member of another well-loved but generally undersold 90s band, The Posies (as well as stints in REM, Big Star, Minus 5, etc.), also sounds lost but better able to map his disappointment. In a literal sense, "Death Of A City" is an environmentalist screed (Nothing is able to live in this town/So you go out late and look for the stars/All you see is orange on the clouds). But on another level--and with greater theatrics than Childs' song--it taps a personal estrangement, too (the frequent refrain of Oh, you're over and done with now).
"Death" appears on Stringfellow's third solo record, Soft Commands (US, UK).
From Childs' and Stringfellow's latest band efforts:
How I Long - Gorky's Zygotic Mynci
Sweethearts Of Rodeo Drive - The Posies