Saturday, February 26, 2011

How the Tallest Man on Earth brought us home.

A certain musician, a song, or sound can connect us with a moment, a season, or an entire year. If you watch the above video you will hear an artist named The Tallest Man on Earth. If you are interested in a truly interactive experience, go ahead and click play on that video...and read on. 

This summer we packed up all of our possessions and pointed a moving truck westward. It would take us twenty-two hours to reach  a land we have dreamt of for many years, the state of Oregon. Those twenty-two hours were filled with varying landscapes, endless plains, and rolling hills. We filled those hours with albums after albums of our favorite musicians. Those musicians have already settled themselves into specific moments in our life. Vetiver, our summer honeymoon drive through the dry climate of Northern California. Devendra Banhart, the winding roads of the Cascades, sun beams breaking through the pines. 

The Columbia River met us after several hours of driving northwest through Eastern Oregon. We met it at the top of its downward trajectory towards the Pacific. The last three hours of our journey home would hug her banks, the walls she carved rising on either side of us. At some point Beth opened the CD case and slid in of our newest albums into the truck's player. The rapid strumming, the piercing vocals of Kristian Matsoon, The Tallest Man on Earth. For the next three hours it was our soundtrack to one of the most beautiful landscapes in all of the world, the Columbia River Gorge.

So now, when I hear those familiar chords, that jaring voice, I am completely transported. I am there in that truck, I am seeing the white caps of the choppy Columbia, I am imagining the salmon in their rhythmic, ancient quest, fighting their way upstream under the surface. We turn with her, and now I see the white blanket covering Mt. Hood. We turn again and I cannot believe how quickly such a huge mountain can disappear. We sink more, the walls grow taller. Deeper and closer to home. The cracked window whistling, the guitar strums quickening, the sweet smell of pine laden air. 

I can sit here now, and be completely transported. Where are your songs taking you?   


  1. Love this!
    Winding along the Columbia Eastward a few years ago, we made a stop at Tamastslikt, museum of the Umatilla peoples, near Pendleton, Oregon. There we heard the music of Tree Cody in the giftshop: a CD called White Buffalo, which we bought. The music fit the terrain, and literally was stuck in our CD player for the entire journey. Over and over, it was the only music. Always will associate the music with sagebrush, tumbleweeds, barerock and the Columbia River.
    Right now, Laura Veirs, July Flame is a comfort and inspiration, takes me to summer. Also, loving old jazz: Satchmo, Ella, and a woman called Blossom Dearie. So cool. Takes me back to my childhood.

  2. Claire!

    I'm glad to hear that Laura is taking you to warm days and sunlight until 9:00pm. Thanks for sharing your Columbia River soundtrack, I have a feeling that that landscape has many different is so sensorially abundant! Also, thanks for commenting!