This is not music for mechanical pencil stealing 2nd graders, chocolate milk hoarding 4th graders, or even socially perturbed freshmen. This is Music for Kindergarten and Nursery School. I think anyone half conscious with at least one eye that works can see by the gleeful elephant blowing flowers through a tuba on the cover. No self-respecting 6th grader is going to look at this album and be all like, “Man, I’ve GOT to listen to this!”
Another glaring indicator that this two record set is aimed at the youngins is the music contained within. With songs like, Good-bye Old Paint, Who Will Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet?, and my personal favorite, Donkey Riding, it becomes apparent rather quickly the target demographic Allyn and Bacon, Inc. and Alpha Records were aiming for.
For further definition as to the aspirations set forth by this merry little compilation of outdated and completely irrelevant music, the producers at the RCA Custom Record Division offer this, rather wholesome, little mission statement. (See photo. I’m NOT retyping all of this up. You can just as easily click the image and read for yourself… Please excuse my misguided belligerence. I’ve been off coffee for four days now. Have a nice day.)
It’s comforting, just how powerful the sadness of others can be. One man’s sadness is another man’s solace, I always say (I’ve never said that). I’m not saying go out and make someone cry, I’m just saying the emotional release that some artists offer can be a wonderful companion.
While painting pictures of our ancestors desecrating the Plaines of our nation’s majestic beauty, Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard offer a beautiful imagine of how the diseased minds of those ancestors would respond upon seeing their failed endeavors being overtaken by beautiful, luscious flowers. “Let us sacrifice our time, our family’s time, our souls, our worries, and our lives to the building of this conveyance called, the railroad… then lets abandon our progress and allow for nature’s beauty to restake her claim,” said no one ever! Probably because “restake” isn’t an actual word.
Bugs & Flowers is a rolling wave of solace. It’s that much needed alleviation when you had no Earthly idea you were in desperate need of it. Clocking in at 4:13, Bugs & Flowers is the comfort from a loved one that you want never to leave your side, but eventually always does. The entire album could be this song repeated, 11 times and show no hint of getting old. Melancholy is a powerful thrill.
Throughout the song, Mr. Lewis talks of taking a solitary walk in the forest over a series of deteriorating crossties. Along this self-reflecting journey, he comments on the backs of shiny bugs, infinite dust, and crosstie devouring flowers.
It’s difficult sometimes, when the whiskey takes over. It’s as though solemn innocence loses its struggling will to survive. Lucky for me there’s a soundtrack to this struggle.