This is My Jam- Neko Case “Night Still Comes”
by Meridith Messier on October 24, 2013
Posted in: Folk, Music
Singer-songwriter, Vermont ranch owner, kitchen-trained chef, honorary Canadian, redhead: Neko Case is everything I aspire to be. I first heard about Case when I was 16, a few months after “Middle Cyclone” was released. I’d downloaded a playlist of some 90 or so songs that a Texas college radio station had deemed worthy to get “excited” about in 2009. The summer was long and I spent most of it wearing tie dye t-shirts in Maine. In the mix was “The Pharoahs” and, somehow, it stuck out. It was one of the few songs from the mix that I played on repeat into oblivion. It followed me back home for the Fall and I didn’t try to find other music by Case because this one song satisfied all of my needs. I remember feeling vaguely embarrassed because I’d heard her described as a “country” artist and, as the saying goes, “everything but rap and country” (coincidence that this is around the time I started seriously listening to Kanye West?) About a year later, I found a “Middle Cyclone” vinyl in a pile at my friend Anna’s house and I remember feeling some relief, even if I never talked to her about it. Anna had introduced me to cool music like Death Cab for Cutie and Simon and Garfunkel during my freshman year and I, in return, showed her Bon Iver and The Format. If be both liked Neko, she couldn’t be bad, right?
The next time I ventured into Case’s music was only last year. I was listening to Spotify radio which 1. Is a feature that nobody uses and 2. Especially me, but, there I was, by some serendipity or mistaken click or something and “I Wish I Was the Moon” started playing. That was last October and I thought the song perfectly fit the crisp air, the second impossibly rainy Fall in a row, rain unlike any I’d experienced in the 13 years I’d lived in Vermont. I spent a lot of nights driving through town lines, sleepy and driving too fast, singing along. I got sick of being in one place for too long. I escaped sophomore slumps by getting out, driving around and in all directions, to home, to friends, to nowhere. I’m so tired, I’m so tired/ And I wish I was the moon tonight. Once again, I barely looked into more of Case’s music and, once again, it didn’t make sense.
When I first heard that The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You was released, I had that common “I should really listen to that” feeling as I downloaded songs to put onto my “One Direction Driving Playlist.” I’ve become incredibly lazy with new music; I spent the summer listening to Taylor Swift and 90s pop. Lately, I’ve been listening to the same Purity Ring and Kevin Devine songs on repeat along with, yes, One Direction. How did I get here? This apathy towards new music isn’t really new but its upsetting nonetheless. I often worry about the commitment of new music- if I am going to listen to something new and good then I am usually in for the long haul.. Better to bottom out with a selection of catchy, topical top 40 and revel in my fear of commitment. Lately, I don’t always feel up to taking on a new album that will cut me apart-as all albums I truly fall for do. I have the listening habits of a child, spinning the same ditty over and over until it makes me dizzy and sick. I’ve kept the same CDs in my car since I was 17. But, some days, I do get bored.- and thank god I do because on one of those days I decided to give The Worse Things Get a listen and it was infinitely better than One Direction and quite a bit better than Taylor Swift and 1000% more satisfying than Purity Ring and Kevin Devine combined. Neko Case writes classic music and music with substance. Her songs remind me of Western narratives, the female singer-songrwiters of years gone by, of living in an Americana-drenched countryside. I’m getting through the album slowly- I’ve listened to about half of it- because I still fall to my old ways and a few songs get all of the plays while others sit in darkness. But I’m trying to have resolve in this one.
I’d been in pretty deep with “City Swans” but, after watching a Rookie video that featured Case making Borsch (watch it here), I turned back to “Night Still Comes.” Once again, Case makes the p.e.r.f.e.c.t music for Autumn in Vermont, a thing I know well. The song, like the album, deals with Case’s inner turmoil after personal losses and the depression that ensued. And, as gorgeous as the change of season can be, there is a melancholy that runs in the grey skies and the shorter days. We’ve been lucky this year, but it always comes; everything gets barren, and I try to remember how Fall ever made me happy in the beginning. People compare Case’s voice to things like honey, whiskey, and honey. Golden things. But, in this track, I hear the lengthening shadow, something dark and growing. There’s always someone to say it’s easy for me,/But I revenge myself all over myself/ There’s nothing you can say to me. Something airy and dark. Pharaohs, moons, and stars- Case paints images to my own musical mythology. It’s a slow journey together, but the shadow always falls, stretching behind me, longer, longer, longer, trailing into night.