Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Never Empty Table

Well my winter was long
As I wait for the thaw
And my wounds have all healed
But my nerves are still raw
Living in my own ghost story
Watching silence statues fall
Defying all category
I will make room for you all

Though my garden gate is broken
And there's cracks in all the walls
Though my table is never empty
I will make room for you all

At the end of the day
When the shadows are long
When there's nothing to say
Because nobody's wrong
Reading meaning into patterns
Pleading vainly with the wall
Even lonely doesn't matter
There is no space left to fall

Though my garden gate is broken
And there's cracks on all the walls
Though my table is never empty
I will make room for you all

Come wanderers come enemies and sufferer kings and lay your coats to dry by the fire
Come heretics, come horse thieves come all wise men of great vision

(Lyircs from

I recently gave this song (and all of the NEM songs) a spin.

I really liked this song when I first heard it... up until the bridge about horse theives and heretics. The lyrics of that whole section are just too over the top for me, too "lyric poetry" just for the sake of saying those words. I mean seriously, heretics and horsetheives???

Anyway, A few years removed from the initial reaction and I'm able to really appreciate the song - I'm still down on about half of TMD. The song is just a great listen. It'd be a really nice treat to hear the Crowes play this tune, who knows, maybe they could do something with the bridge and jam it out. Check it out if you haven't given it a listen in a while.


TBC Radio 2 said...

How can you be down on TMD?

Frayed said...


TBC Radio 2 said...

Both NEM records are far superior to any post-'97 Crowes effort, IMO, and I say that being a big fan of "Lions"

I really thought CR was about to transcend to a Neil Young level once NEM got really rolling...but, I guess not, in retrospect.

Anonymous said...

This song just puts a smile on my face even with its gloomy feel. It was easily my favorite when TMD first came out. Beautiful and honest but, yeah, the heretics and horsetheives is a little much.

Jason said...

thanks for starting this up, right on frayed!

Frayed said...

I really liked the first NEM album when it came out, but I kind of soured on it pretty quickly. I still really like Better Than The Sun, Fables, Safe In The Arms Of Love, and Barefoot by the Cherry Tree. Kids That Ain't Got None and Sunday Sound are alright. The rest of the album I really don't like.

The second album I hated when I first heard it. The lyrics were over the top from start to finish. A few of the songs have grown on me, but two of may favorite live songs - Tumbleweed and Mother of Stone - have arrangements that I just don't dig at all. The first is way too slow and the second is just weak.

What surpises me most is that he could have had a stellar album with good arrangments, toned down lyrics, and adding a couple of songs he was performing that didn't make it to the album, namely Reflections On A Broken Mirror and Someday Past The Sunset.

TBC Radio 2 said...

I've heard complaints about the lyrics from other people, as well, but I just don't agree - mainly because I think people just won't be satisfied no matter what he does. For every one person who suggests that CR's lyrics are over the top, there's someone else ragging on him for writing "It's a trip, y'all. Get hip to this, y'all."

With that being said, what I think is important to acknowledge here is that ever since the "Most Rock n' Roll, Rock n' Roll Band in the World" tag was applied, along with all the glitter of '98, the bar has been strikingly lowered in terms of creative output. The fact that people actually like the pathetic disgrace that is "Paper" is enough proof for me.

Bottom line here is that CR's poetry has produced "SGGS", "Bring On, Bring On", "Feathers", "Evil Eye", "The Never Empty Table", "Untangle My Mind", "If You See California", and the list goes on. I think that in certain contexts, not much has really changed in CR's approach or vocabulary, it's just that no one was paying attention to it before.

To some people, TBC is just riffs and leads. The proof is in the fact that their best albums aren't on the world's radar like their Stones/Faces/Humble Pie-esque efforts are. The average Crowes fan likes the Stones and Led Zeppelin. Maybe they go to blues clubs on the weekend. But the minority is home listening to The Velvet Underground and Comets on Fire. Without question - stylistically, there's a huge gap.

The fact that Rich actually claims to be a Devendra Banhart fan is shocking to me. Yeah, we all know he's into Nick Drake, but where does that come out in his songwriting? Nowhere, to be honest. Anyone who can put two and two together can figure out that most of RR's influences are pretty blatant and not exactly revolutionary. I'm not saying that artists have to be revolutionary, or reinvent the wheel for that matter, but an artist should challange himself.

This to me, in a nutshell, is exactly the type of artist CR is - challenging, engaging, and nonconformist.

Frayed said...

Well, I disagree about Paper and your thoughts about Rich in general. One of the things I really like about Rich's riffs is that they are not generic. Buttermilk Waltz is fairly Nick Drake sounding, as is When You Will. I'd say Rich's riff's sound familiar to people who like many of the artists he talks about and obviously listens to, but they don't sound derivitive. Paper - and maybe this ought to be a different thread - is what it is. I thought the riffs were great, but it comes across like one guy's playing everything - and basically he did. It lacked that whole band feel. For what it is, I really do like it alot and there are a few songs that would have been masterful as Crowes songs.

The Crowes to me have never been about Chris's lyrics or solos or really even Rich's riffs, but the entire package. Chris and Rich alone really are the main ingredient, but without a band around them, I think they aren't reaching their potential - as much as I enjoy the Brothers stuff.

Also, people have long listened to what Chris was saying and there is a huge gap between his solo lyrics and the dense stuff he did on Amorica and Three Snakes. Under A Mountain, lyrically, hasn't really been approached since then. IN any case, lyrically, his stuff is fine, its the little touches that can often make or break something. Never Empty Table is a great example of that. Take out that bridge and its a fabulous song. Leave it in, and its a very good song with a clumsy bunch of lyrics at the end. The difference is small, but still quite large when it comes to the overall song. TMD is full of that. Add to it, that it doesn't have any of the complexity in terms of music that ANY TBC album since Southern Harmony and you're playing with fire. Simple songs can be great if the lyrics hold them together, but... just like a bad riff or a terrible solo mid song can sour the entire thing, so too a clumsy line can create problems.

All that aside, I obviously love the guys lyrics in general, but this one song is a great example of "what might have been" had CR had his brother to bounce some of the lyrics off of. I think his stuff since TMD has generally been much stronger lyrically. He hasn't dumbed things down, but he's refrained from unnecessary word flourishes. Say what you need to say, say it beautifully, but say it and don't over adjectize