Outside Cats

A couple of weeks ago, I published a post inspired by the Jethro Tull song “Inside,” sharing a collection of images shot from within the confines of our apartment as we sheltered in place. Today I heard another song that seemed apt for our times, and served as inspiration for a different set of photos: “Outside Cats (We Are Already In Hell)” by The Wasted. It’s darker fare, as is much of the canon penned by its creator, Stephen Gaylord. When I left Albany, I included Steve and his various bands in my “things I will miss most” list, noting:

Stephen Gaylord writes deeply-emotional songs about often-flawed individuals, and his work is frequently rooted in the rural culture of his native Kinderhook and its environs. He has offered these riveting compositions onstage hereabouts for the better part of two decades with Beef, The Wasted, and as a solo artist (under the pseudonym Gay Tastee), and I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone write or sing music that hurts as good as his does. Marcia and I both count his heart-wrenching “Beautiful Brand New” among our favorite songs, ever, and Beef’s “Spavid Story” provides the greatest description of the creative urge to rock that I’ve ever heard, including the classic couplet: “We never listened to the reasons why it didn’t sound right / We was fuckin’ around on a Friday night.” If I had to pick a single album to stand as the soundtrack to my 18 years in Upstate New York, there is no doubt that it would be The Wasted’s We Are Already in Hell, a loosely-conceptual masterpiece of insightful lyrics and brilliant riffs, featuring a killer performance by the band (Gaylord, Kelly Murphy, Dave Reynolds) from soup to nuts. I will never hear this record without being transported back to a place where “there’s a certain shade of red the weeds down by the creeks will get between the Catskills and the Berkshire hills / and if you’re from down here you shouldn’t need to ask if it’s a theme park or a labor camp.”

 

Here are the lyrics to “Outside Cats,” if you’d like to sing along:

skipped out when he figured out that we ain’t but
specks of shit in the universe
left behind an empty vodka bottle
with a poorly written note inside
for leaving me with my moron mother
in the ignorance of indigence
and everything I learned from someone else
well bred well read enough to know the difference
that we are already in hell

and they don’t come and go like outside cats
all the priests and the teachers
they could never answer that
once we’re all meditating mendicants
who’s gonna wanna shovel all our shit
and set the table so I can set and think
about dead presidents and philosopher kings
and how they’re killing each other
while the food runs out
and the choirs of street urchins sing
that we are already in hell

It feels like that sometimes these days, doesn’t it? Still and all, one of the ways that Marcia and I try to keep the hellish overtones at bay is by taking a daily walk or two, turning ourselves into outside cats, meow meow meow. We always go out masked, and generally we head way out into the countryside to get away from the blithering idiots who congregate on the city paths and trails around our apartment, unmasked, disrespectful of personal space, unwanted vectors for possible contagion. Bad neighbors! Boo!

As always, I snap pictures when I ramble. So here’s a sample of our outside views from corona time, appreciating the beauty, sounds and smells of nature, perhaps more so than we ever have before. I’ve also been converting these and other recent images into new headers for the website, as the old photos up there had gotten stale for me, whether or not you actually noticed them there! (Note: The horse photo is Marcia’s. We applauded them for their excellent social distancing).

One thought on “Outside Cats

  1. Pingback: What’s Up in the Neighborhood, May 9, 2020 – Chuck The Writer

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