December 7, 2011

all my sails were ablaze / i was chained to the helm

Late in the middle of last night, my friend Brian in San Francisco sent me this song, with the subject line “life changing jam.” I’d never heard it before, and of course I love a good hyperbolic recommendation. After a good ten times of playing this sweetly melancholic, symphonic song (reminiscent of some of my favorite moments of sexy-Bono-falsetto U2), I’ll buy that. Grant Lee Buffalo is a name from the past that I am only loosely acquainted with (mid-Nineties, pretty sure I saw them live with R.E.M). Brian is tied to some of the reasons I started writing Fuel/Friends in the first place, over six years ago, so as such he knows enough about my musical evolution to be acquainted with all my musical soft spots. This song hits about 17 of them.

Here it is, your forgotten Nineties gem of the day:

Mockingbirds – Grant Lee Buffalo

EDIT: Aww, man, I just realized I’d forgotten about this song of his, too, that I have been meaning to write about for a good year+. I’m in love with all of these lyrics, and claim ‘em like an anthem:

Strangest thing, days I feel like dirt
and then I see the diamond dust on everything
Strangest thing, something plucks my nerve
and then I hear a hundred chords a-shimmering

Strangest thing, the way that one guitar
can move me more than any symphony
Strangest thing, when it starts to pour
I feel the sadness and the pain go out of me

I don’t feel sad when Cash wears black, I hear the train comin
Good things down the railroad track, ya gotta believe in somethin…

Tagged with .


  • New to Grant Lee Buffalo, eh? Then dive right in to their astonishing debut, ‘Fuzzy,’ without delay, Heather! For a compact career overview, including a disc of rarities, you should pick up ‘Storm Hymnal.’ Grant has also released a bunch of great solo albums, so there’s plenty of loveliness to catch up on. Enjoy your exploration of this criminally overlooked band.

    Dave — December 7, 2011 @ 9:17 am

  • Did you change something with the streaming mp3s? I can no longer just press the little “play” icon on the blog, but have to download the song instead to play it. Maybe it’s the antiquated browser at work?

    ForTheShorties — December 7, 2011 @ 9:18 am

  • very nice…one of my favorite 90′s songs!

    and i second Dave’s points, both the criminally overlooked and the excellent solo work of Grant-Lee Phillips!

    daysleeping — December 7, 2011 @ 9:25 am

  • SOOO glad you discovered them. This is my favorite album of theirs. The bass player produced all their albums. I think this album is the best, but it was the first one I discovered in 1994-5. “It is the Life” will be played at my funeral (no time soon, I hope). I am diving into it again now. Thanks for the reminder. I also agree with Dave that Fuzzy is amazing. Standout tracks are Fuzzy and Dixie Drug Store. I have been toying with the idea of starting a blog and going back to these indie albums from 80s and 90s like Silos – Cuba and more like this one. What an album!

    Jeremy — December 7, 2011 @ 9:59 am

  • That’s the guy from the Gilmore Girls, awesome!

    The tune in the video is really good.

    Avi — December 7, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

  • THanks for the memory :) Haven’t listened to that song for 15 years at least. In the same vein for me is Would You Be Willing by Dog’s Eye View

    Pat — December 7, 2011 @ 5:07 pm


    browneheather — December 7, 2011 @ 5:51 pm

  • Back in May, the Buffalo were regrouped roaming around Europe… although info’s been pretty hard to come by.

    Rupe — December 8, 2011 @ 8:10 am

  • check out we are young by fun here also check out the cover glee did if the song here

    i love fun — December 8, 2011 @ 6:11 pm

  • Honey Don’t Think was always my favorite mixtape choice off this album. The Storm Hymnal compilation is one of the most essential best-of’s from the past 10 years!

    TheBeat — December 9, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

  • One of my favorite albums ever. Listen to “Happiness” for a stunning melancholic song.

    jc — December 11, 2011 @ 6:12 pm

  • GLB remains high atop my list of highly underrated 90s bands. Copperopolis, the record following Mighty Joe Moon, is incredible. I mean ‘Stranded on an Island Top 10′ worthy. Thanks for the memories…

    JRS — December 12, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

  • Hadn’t played Mighty Joe Moon for about 10 years then got it out a couple of months ago. It’s all good but Mockingbirds is sublime!!

    Greg Harnett — December 20, 2011 @ 3:17 am

  • Thank you for that video – knocked me flat. GLB’s keyboardist lives up here in California’s Sierra Foothills now, runs an art movie house.

    Charlie Nickrenz — January 1, 2012 @ 11:28 am

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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