Seems that Will Oldham got together with guitar slinger pals Emmett Kelly and crew (Wonder Show of the World, 2010) to record a couple of songs for the soundtrack to the surf-flick-homage-flick Spirit of Akasha. I’ve not seen it and I’ve never seen the original from 1971 either−a film called Morning of the Earth about surfers living in spiritual harmony with nature. The 1971 soundtrack is regarded as one of Australia’s 100 best albums and contains the original version of “I’ll Be Alright,” which Oldham & Co. cover for the b-side here. These two songs are quietly wonderful pieces, the kind of subtle guitar melodies that suits Oldham’s singing voice so well.
We Love Our Hole… softly padded beat, warm country melody on acoustic guitar, and a dual male vocal. From what I can glean, after a quick once-over of the lyrics, is that the ‘hole’ is one’s home say, or one’s niche or habitat, and that it’s deserving of love simply because it’s “ours.” So an ode to … homeliness? Or good living, because in the hole you can cause all the trouble you like, paint the town red, and enjoy free love while sunshine songs pounce to the rhythm of a bouncing ball, making Oldham “sing out with gle-e-e.” The chorus, “we love our hole” has three voices intertwining, separating, coming together. A little bit of Heidegger’s dasein creeps into the song, when Oldham’s persona recognizes he is in the world and not of the world as illustrated by the fact that we can’t speak without the tongue. i.e. you can’t talk about language without a tongue and likewise you can’t talk about the world as if you’re separate from the world—and this is “no bullshit I am giving” sings Oldham. A sweet high falsetto leads us into the final verse. And so to live simply is the message of this quietly pretty guitar song, and “we’re going to explore our hole,” and, erm, we aren’t going to “boast” and especially not “tell on foes or friends” because that would be “devastating.” Yep. It’s hard to tell if these classic Oldham lyrics strive for poignancy or whimsy. The voices come together, two male, one female, at the end, for the chorus harmony once more. It’s a small unassuming kind of song, not about to set the world on fire, but with pleasing tune.
I’ll Be Alright… was written by John Capek and Terry Hannagan and their version appears in the original movie, Morning Of The Earth, and can be found on Youtube. Theirs is a piano-led Elton-Johnesque lyrical number that sounds very much of its time. Oldham’s version is much simpler, just acoustic and electric guitars played softly, no percussion, with female backing vocal. Oldham’s voice is all soft curlicues, a lovely nostalgic seventies kind of feel. The words form a monologue of sorts, sung from the point of view of a young man trying to make his way peacefully in the world, at his own pace, not caring what others think. He’s turned his back on worldly woes, and he now desires only to be content in the country with his love, “somewhere where the day is always bright,” and not some uptight place like “England, Germany or Spain.” Basically, the message is “tell ‘em I’ll be alright,” although who “them” are is unclear – maybe it’s his family, old friends, or maybe it’s just the “hassled out or hurried” world he no longer cares to be in touch with, whether by “writing letters / Or using the telephone.” He’s going home and he’ll be alright, hey, eh hippy. The song’s structure feels unrestrained to any strict form, and thus can be stretched or shrunk or built up or let down as and when the mood takes the singer-players. I like this one a lot. I can see after a few more spins the song growing on my back like a friendly gremlin homunculus.
So, two quiet inoffensive numbers in the manner you’ve probably come to expect from Oldham’s previous collaborations with the Cairo Gang. Both songs seem to hark back to some nostalgic era where life was simpler and the Internet didn’t exist.
Go HERE to see a full list of Will Oldham singles, LPs and other bits/bobs released on vinyl.