It’s been a quite stellar year for Orindal Records, with special releases coming from the likes of Claire Cronin and Boduf Songs, but perhaps our favourite release from the Chicago based label was Friendship’s Dreamin’.
It goes without saying that the record made the cut on our 2019 Recommendations list, so we caught up with singer, Dan Wriggins, to find out what’s been making the Philly man tick from the world of music, film and literature. Here are his Sound & Vision picks:
Three albums that I love:
The Love That Won’t Shut Up – Opal Foxx Quartet
My friend, Noah Britton, showed me Benjamin Smoke and Bill Taft’s music a few years ago. Smoke was such an outrageous, badass songwriter. This album’s title is appropriate; Miss Opal Foxx (Smoke’s drag persona) had a lot to sing about and she wasn’t subtle. The refrain of Clean White Bed is super dramatic: ‘I feel your hot hands of fire against my cold hands of ice.’ It’s evidence of Smoke’s full-blooded life-force, shaking hands with death. This album includes a cover of the theme from the Mary Tyler Moore show, and Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit. I’ll sneak another movie recommendation in here: Jim Cohen’s Benjamin Smoke.
I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight – Richard and Linda Thompson
This isn’t rightfully my pick as much as it is Mike Cormier’s (the drummer for Friendship). He’s been selling me on Richard Thompson for years and I only just started listening. I was probably prejudiced against the goofy, ghostly British folk tradition. But, of course, it’s totally sick, and I’m glad Richard’s still writing these supernatural-natural songs.
Caterpillar Graveyard -Ylayali
Caterpillar Graveyard is my favourite record from this year. It’s a creative, emotional masterpiece. Fran creates such a deep world to inhabit, muddy and crystal clear, full of irregularities and perfectly cohesive. Katie and Fran moved last month from Philly to Saratoga. I’m gonna miss them. Best to listen to it on a phone with low battery. This album might be the redemption of indie.
An important movie: Nights of Cabiria
Early Fellini movies have everything I could want. They are funny and moving. They’re even better when they star Giulietta Masina, whose humanity is like a bulldozer. La Strada is great too, but Nights of Cabiria has more jokes.
One special book: Casting Deep Shade
I met C.D. Wright in 2014 when she came to my college to read. She was brilliant and humble – we talked about Vic Chesnutt who had been a friend of hers, and about the book she was working on, about Beech trees. It ended up being her last book, and was published after her sudden death in January of 2016. For about eight months in 2018 I worked for an arborist company in Philadelphia’s western suburbs. I admired, worked on, and cut down plenty of majestic beeches. I wish I could find her and tell her about it. On the final page she quotes W.S. Merwin: ‘On the last day of the world/ I would want to plant a tree.’
One song that means a lot: Red Sun by Neil Young – from Silver and Gold
I think my dad had a copy of this Neil Young CD, Silver and Gold, in his car when I was growing up. I love the record, and especially the back half. The beautiful waltz melody for Red Sun is perennially stuck in my head. I had never paid attention to the words (weird for me), until I looked them up recently when I wanted to learn the song. I started sobbing when I got to the end of the chorus: ‘The well will be flowing and the words will come fast/ when the one who is coming arrives here at last.’ It’s this nice little song about lovers and grassy hills, and then Neil casually drops in Christendom’s obsessive longing for the saviour to return. Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt (!!!) sing gorgeous harmony.