First Watch:

Kristin Hersh



words by will fitzpatrick

“Keep your head, dumbass.”

But how can I, Kristin? How can I possibly keep my head? The world is an increasingly scary place; volatile, angry, oppressive, reactionary. How can I keep my head when I barely understand what’s going on?

Your voice feels new. I know it as a tidal wave, a knockout blow; for years it has placed me in a vice-like grip while forcing me to confront things that I could barely comprehend… but here it’s different somehow. The power is still there. I am still held down by it. But the wounds of these words are carried on a whisper, and it haunts me.

When you sing of “jokes for the slo-mo” or “that cheerleader drink for the wicked” the words leave my consciousness stripped bare. I have to wait for them to seep into me and do their work from the inside out, which might take years (Lord knows University is still crawling around inside there and I first heard that 18 years ago. How long will Wyatt at the Coyote Palace take?).

But this video helps make some sense of it. These flashes of nature and childhood and adventure and optimism contrast wildly with the rising cacophony of the music. They calm the chaos and help me see the contradictions. Even now, I do not understand, and your hissed instruction to keep my head – like Kipling’s If… hypothesis bursting into a tense imperative – doesn’t help. But the possibility these images suggest… that soothes me, somehow.

Because I think I’m learning something. Keeping my head means keeping things together, which means they must already be unraveling. But for them to unravel, I must have kept something together at one time. My head? My heart, even?

I’m still scared, Kristin. This song scares me too.

But it’s the best advice you’ve ever given me.

‘Wyatt at the Coyote Palace’ is released via Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records on 7th April

You can pre-order it here



Back to posts