Some notes on the new Jason Webley CD, Only Just Beginning.
At the concert at Town Hall Friday night, I sat next to a man I introduced myself to, but whose name I have forgotten. He mentioned that he’d recently interviewed Jason for a San Francisco-based publication, but did not mention it by name.
We briefly discussed the experience of interviewing Jason and I asked him some questions about what he’d learned from Jason in the interview. He told me that yes, this new record is the end of the cycle that began with Viaje; that the songs on Only Just Beginning are about family, and finally, that each song on Only Just Beginning relates direcly to the songs on Viaje.
Curious, as I was ripping Only Just Beginning, I looked at the tracklistings for Viaje. What I noticed was interesting enough that I’ll reproduce both side by side here.
|Viaje||Only Just Beginning|
|Prelude||February Relaxing Her Fingers After A Brief Winter’s Grip|
|Without||Music That Puts Everything Together|
|Halloween||Balloon Feather Boat Tomato|
|Rocket To God||Map|
|Old Man Time Ain’t No Friend Of Mine||Viaje|
|Avocado Mushroom Devil Trap||May Day|
|Music That Tears Itself Apart||With|
|August Closing His Mouth After A Long Summer’s Yawn||Coda|
The songs are structured as the close of a fugue begun on Viaje, such that Viaje’s “Prelude” determines Only Just Beginning’s “Coda,” and so on. “Halloween” and “May Day.” “Old Man Time” and “Icarus.”
(Update: oops, I reversed the songtitles titles at first.)
There are musical relationships as well – “Music That Puts Everything Together” echoes both “Halloween” and, obviously, “Music That Tears Itself Apart,” but I have, er, only just begun to listen for them.
Finally, I noticed that Jason also studded the concert last night with simiilar puzzles – the only one I really saw and got was at the beginning of the second song, “Balloon Feather Boat Tomato,” when he pulled these objects, in that order, from within the grand piano on the stage. As the audience recognized each, cheers rang out, presumably for the roles each symbol hs played over the years at these elaborate shows.
The title of the song, by the way, relates in reverse chronological order, the ways in which Jason’s end-of-season Death Day shows transported the performer-character to the Other Side. At the first Death Day show, the Tomato led the procession, where Jason was shorn and placed into a coffin; At the second (my favorite of the ones I saw), he departed in a boat, accompanied by Charon and the Lady of the Lake; at the third, he was cocooned against a tree as feathers rained down on the freezing, silent crowd; and at the most recent, his avatar ascended through the drizzle slung beneath a clot of balloons.
One cannot help but wonder what in the world will happen at the end of this summer.