Monday, December 20, 2010


A few more things:

The album will be $10,
 and cover the admission price.
No opening acts, 
but guest musicians will include:
Julia Mecham
Beaux Underwood
David Darais
The Williams Family Band
There will be yummy things to eat.
I'm really, really excited for this!
I'll probably make a couple more posters that are less vague,
and don't make it look like the band "weary as we are" 
is releasing an album called "Luke Williams." 
Mostly because I like making posters :)
Asterisks look like snowflakes.
I love you!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"I want to punch him in his stupid face."

I'm doing some research for one of my final papers, and there is a twenty-something woman with dark hair and a small chin standing directly to my right, talking on her cell phone about how much she hates the "pretentious douchebag" on the other side of the coffeeshop who is having a loud (and admittedly rather one-sided) conversation, which is bothering her while she is studying. Such wonderfully thick contradiction.

Neither of them, incidentally, have stupid faces.

Monday, December 6, 2010

technically? maybe.

If I'm sad about the visceral, beautiful, oppressive smog, and it pulls a thick cough from the throat it's coating, and saline tears from my blue-green eyes, am I crying?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Jeff, and Mama, You've Been On My Mind

Jeff Buckley would be 44 years old today if he hadn't walked into Wolf River Harbor with his steel-toed boots on. Luckily, although he only recorded one studio album, he left behind a ridiculous amount of live and bootleg material, most of which has been posthumously released and is easy to find. If you're anything like me, Live at Sin-é (Legacy Edition) is the album to get. Gone is the 90s grunge-flair of his studio recordings, which actually turned me off from his music for a couple years. The songs on Sin-é are stripped down, just the man and his telecaster. Most of the tracks are too long to keep the average blog-reader's attention (myself included, I know how it goes), but I'll link you to some of my favorites in case you're interested. Otherwise, just check out this great Bob Dylan cover for now. It's not from Sin-é, but it'll give you a taste:

Mama, You've Been On My Mind --- Bob Dylan

Perhaps it is the color of the sun cut flat
An' cov'rin' the crossroads I'm standing at,
Or maybe it's the weather or something like that,
But mama, you been on my mind.

I mean no trouble, please don't put me down, don’t get upset,
I am not pleading or saying that "I can't forget you."
I do not pace the floor bowed down and bent, but yet,
Mama, you been on my mind.

Even though my eyes are hazy and my thoughts they might be narrow,
Where you been don't bother me or bring me down in sorrow.
I don't even mind who you'll be waking with tomorrow,
But mama, you're just on my mind.

I am not askin' you to say words like "yes" or "no,"
Please understand me, I have no place I’m callin’ you to go.
I'm just whispering to myself so I can't pretend that I don't know,
But mama, you're just on my mind.

When you wake up in the mornin' and look inside your mirror,
You know I won't be next to you, you know I won't be near.
I'd just be curious to know if you can see yourself as clear
As someone who has had you on his mind.

The best of Jeff Buckley on YouTube, curated by Luke Williams
More Dylan covers: If You See Her, Say Hello (starts @1:09), Just Like A Woman
Original Stuff: Lover, You Should've Come Over is the good original from Sin-é on YouTube.
Etc: If You Knew (Nina Simone cover), The Way Young Lovers Do (Van Morrison cover).

Holy hannah, that's a lot links. Most of those songs are 7-10 minutes long, too. Sorry. I don't know, I guess if you're bored, and you need some background music, there you go. Myself, I can't get enough of it.

Happy B-day, and thanks, Mr. Buckley.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


This is mesmerizing.

Part circus routine, part modern dance, total respect to this guy for 1) his talent, and 2) his graceful performance.

The piano/cello backing track makes the whole thing seem so serene, not a display of physical strength or even human ability, but something cycling, a flowing series of movements, as natural as a wave breaking over the sand on a calm morning.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Weary As We Are

The record has a name! Jan's getting all the artwork figured out, and Simon and I are hard at work on a new website (if it works, it's going to be a pretty little thing).

It's snowing in Salt Lake City today, and I will be soaked and cold when I get home, but I'll make coffee and sit by the window and be truly happy and grateful to have been given the chance, for a moment, to experience my animal physicality, pushing my legs against the wind and through the slush, my breath hot against my scarf, lips, cheeks, fingers burning in my gloves, and to have the earth experience me, a little conglomeration of flesh and water and proteins and language emitting heat as I brace against its cold, emitting CO2 as I run my muscular processes on its icy oxygen, and occasionally emitting songs in the tradition of its birds, whales, humans, crackling rivers, growling volcanos, humming winds. Days like this remind me that we are not so removed from these cycles and traditions as we so often allow ourselves to believe. 

I love you!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"everything your twisted smile conveys"

I've never listened to much Amos Lee, so credit for this one goes to my dear friend Julia Mecham, who put it (different version, though. I like this one better. I am better than Julia) on a mix for me when I was stuck in bed with mono.

I like this song for a lot of reasons. Basically, I'm a sucker for:
1. Anything played on a Wurlitzer 200a (want another example? What? Another?) Listen to this in your headphones and let that vibrato cradle you gently into the stratosphere.
2. Motown, or in this case Motown-influenced soul music. I love it even when it's riding that fine line between great and sap-tastic (which is the same fine line that the Wurlitzer 200a walks, now that I think about it). It has something to do with the fact that my first love was the electric bass. In high school, I wanted to be a James Jamerson. And by "in high school," I mean still, right now, every day. One finger, guys. He played all those lines with one finger. They called it "The Hook." He had all five, that's just the way he got things done. Moving forward,
3. Black people's voices, and
4. Bass!
5. Simple lyrics that are also good.
6. Sad lyrics that are also good.
7. Well placed gospel backup vocals that don't sound slapped on by record producers (you're the best thaaang!).
8. Songs that end with a good breakdown.

Maybe you don't share those affinities with me, but you might like the song anyway.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Some night in early 2009, a soft snow fell across diffused cones from yellow streetlights, and I put off writing an essay to go to an album release show. It had only been a few weeks since the more humble release of my own EP, and that was on my mind as I stepped heavily out of the white and into the old brick entryway of the Post Theater. A Logan musician I'd never heard of named E. Stohl Chipman was the man of the hour, but I was there because my good friend Julia Mecham was one of the opening acts. The other opener, Asher in the Rye, caught my attention not so much for the vocalist and songwriter, but for her one-man backup band, a skinny dude impressively playing percussion, bells, keyboard, banjo, and singing harmony, often simultaneously. He left the show early, but I found out a few things about him: he was learning the entire Amelie soundtrack (Composer: french genius Yann Teirsen) on the accordion, his name was Beaux, and he had become a new musical hero of mine.

As 2010 wears on - at the moment getting fitted for its own Salt Lake City winter - I'm playing in a band called Matteo with three wonderful musicians who I am proud to call my friends as well as my musical collaborators, including lead singer Eric Chipman. I myself am the skinny dude playing one-man backup band (albeit less impressively) for Julia Mecham, who is without a doubt my favorite musician in Utah. This past week, I became a member of a band called St. Boheme, playing french cafe music on accordions and banjos and vibraphones with Beaux Underwood. And in December, my new record will come out, and I will have a release show, and I hope you'll put off writing your essay to come see it. I can't promise it'll subtly present you with the genetic sequence that spells out your musical projects for the next two years. But it might be snowing, even softly, and I will give you a close hug.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bowling for Hash Browns

I am the re-setting machine in a one-lane bowling alley. You only have to get one pin, way over in the corner, and before I can think about it I'm sweeping the whole array back into the depths of my throat with a big mechanical arm and starting over from scratch, simultaneously sliding the ball back to whoever is next in line. The whole process is slick, perfect, rubber, composite wood floors reflected in every waxy surface, and the ball spins airily, pushing the pins over with a softness that betrays the sound of the contact, cracking and popping like a big ceramic wildfire. I might be a single-function machine, but you're wearing someone else's shoes.

I'm hoping that when somebody buys up this old bowling alley -- It hasn't turned a profit in years --  they'll have the guts to recontextualize me instead of just throwing me out or putting me on the wall, a showpiece that has outlived its utility. If you turn the place into a diner, you can suspend me from the rafters, and when someone finishes their eggs and coffee, I'll swoop down with the mechanisms I know so well, everything into the soapy bucket and then new settings lowered down, silverware and glasses and jam and butter and a napkin at each place. It wouldn't be one of those corny themed places, "Come on down to Dine & Bowl" and signed memorabilia on the walls. Just your homemade buttermilk waffles and a good friend helping you bus tables.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reality? Check.

I just had my sanity re-evaluated by a perfectly normal looking stranger in a green fleece jacket. He introduced himself with a joke I didn't understand, peering into my computer lab suspiciously and then laughing, "I'm just kidding, how are you doing?" After that entrance, he walks in and begins talking about graduating from West High, but he wants something more from his life. West High, so do I know this guy, is that why he's talking to me? He doesn't look familiar. He says he doesn't want to take away my time, but could I tell him where he could get a new Air Force Uniform? He needs a new one, he says as he pulls from his wallet a laminated picture of himself, a few years younger, in full regalia.

"No, I'm sorry, I really wouldn't know where to get one..."
"The VA, maybe? Sorry, I don't mean to be rude."
"Yeah, I'm sure they can point you in the right direction anyway."

Some talk follows from him (with no space for contribution by me but smiles and affirmative nods) about West High, new beginnings, getting his credits transferred to the U, his dad works here, he doesn't want to go back to the gravel pits, he's riding on the second wave of his life, and this is a letter from his bishop saying that he could use some on-the-job experience. Girls don't like him because he never served a mission, but he doesn't think that's too important.

This man is smiling an immense, braces-laden smile as he talks, finding humor in every few sentences, enough to laugh and watch me to make sure I'm smiling too. He looks young, fresh-faced. He looks like he belongs in the front row of a freshmen chemistry class. He is not the fast-talking conspiracy theorist that rides your morning UTA bus to work, who blinks too often or looks past you with glassy eyes when he talks. He looks vaguely ethnic, but in a sort of American Melting Pot way, nothing identifiable. He has shallow, sad eyes, and he takes his steps without purpose, as if he'd walked into my lab but might just as well have walked into any room in any building on campus.

"My uniform was stolen, you know."
"Oh, .... I'm sorry."
"Yeah, It wasn't you though. Or you," pointing to my co-worker and little brother Clayton, whose eyes are understandably glued to his computer, "or my dad or anything. I think it was a former roommate of mine. Not you though. I don't know. I've got this whole stack of paperwork." He laughs again. "So I just want to get the things back that are mine, you know? I'm trying to get things back that are mine, and it really upsets me. But it wasn't you."

I'm pretty sure by now that we're about to break through this dreamlike mess of an interaction. I'm convinced that the illusion of insanity he's cast will break down any minute and, in spite of his genuinely harmless appearance, he'll ask us for money or drugs, or try to sell us some kind of contraband, or make a grab at my laptop, because if the interaction moved to that level it would become concrete again, and I'd know immediately why he was here, talking endlessly in apparent non sequitur. But he gives me no such shift.

"So can I do that next week, can I get my credits transferred from West High and the Air Force to the U and start taking some classes, because I don't want to go back to the gravel pits," laughter, "I want to figure out who I want to be, if I want to be a teacher, or a car collector, I just don't know, but my plate is full of possibilities."
"I'm really sorry, but I can't really help you with any of that, I think you want to be talking to student services, they can help you get your credits transferred."
"Ah, of course, yeah, I don't mean to be rude..." he stretches his hand out for a fist-bump, which I give him slowly.
"Well, good luck with your uniform and getting your credits transferred," I say after he's talked again for a little while about wanting to go to school, more or less.

At first he's unfazed, but with his next disjointed sentences, he puts his picture back in his wallet and starts walking back toward the door.

"Well thanks, you know. I'll come back though, with some more time. I'll be back with some more time."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mrs. Cold

So I know Kings of Convenience are old news. But I'm sick of the insistence in blogging culture, and music culture, and internet culture, on making newness and undiscoveredness our most important measures of worth. I get it, nobody wants their online presence to appear un-savvy, but it's tiring, and I'm tired. Plus, back when I was first shown these guys at 15 or 16 years old, I was still a pretentious music snob (only in the other direction; newness was an indication of detriment). Even when they were shown to me again two years later by my girlfriend at the time, who deserves the entirety of the credit for delivering me from my musical pretension, I thought they were a carbon-copy - minus Paul's virtuosity as a songwriter - of Simon and Garfunkel. The bottom line is, now that I'm ready for them, I'm excited about it and I'd like to share that with you, okay? So we could talk about musical pretension in all of its forms, including my history with it, and you could stutter through your teeth, "Luke, I'm mad, because when I showed you *insert band/musician I now like* you hated them!" and I would say with a sigh and half a smile, "I know I did. I'm sorry. It's not your fault. I am sort of annoying." Or we could talk about girlfriends, or we could talk about real worth in music, or we could talk about how freaking awesome Paul Simon is. Seriously, we could talk about that. But for now I'd just like us to listen to this song, which is good.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Well friends, It's been a bit of a sad week here at Roots in the Sky. Luke Williams, your kindly curator of all things simultaneously aerial and subterranean has come down with the Cootie Fever (mononucleosis, in layman's terms). Here is an image of a man who supposedly has the condition:

Fig. 1

I'll tell you this much, that man does NOT have the same thing I have. I'll tell you why.
1. His neck is not bulging out on the sides due to his tonsils deciding they must free themselves of their throaty prison.
2. "Soreness," "Reddening (x2, apparently)," "Swelling," and "White Patches" just don't cut it as descriptive terms to put under Throat and Tonsils here. I haven't swallowed without wincing since Saturday, and from the look on my mother's face when she snuck a peek at my tonsils, she didn't see white patches. She saw multi-dimensional, ghostly abscesses made from the nightmares she had as a small child. But nobody really uses that archaic swallowing mechanism anyways, right? It's become as useless a part of the modern human body as the spleen. Ha! Spleens are funny. Good thing it wouldn't make any sense for this sickness to have anything to do with..... What's that you say?
3. Mono can do what to my spleen?
4. Who is this creep anyway? Especially with that exposed brain on his forehead. He reminds me of Krang, only Krang's brain was closer to where most people's spleens are. That would've made things complicated if he had ever gotten mono.
5. Actually, I think this guy's subtle yet diabolical stare is more descriptive of mono than any of the text-and-pointy-lines describing the symptoms. For the past week, I believe my throat has been thinking the same thing Mr. Mono here is thinking: "Silly mortal, mere steroids and incrementally greater doses of hydrocodone cannot destroy me.... I have become... unstoppable...."

If I were to contribute my own visual representation of the "Main Symptoms of Infectious Mononucleosis" To wikipedia (which is where I found the former image), I would make the following changes:

Fig. 2
Now, I know I'm being a bit melodramatic about my illness. Once this sore throat from hell is gone, supposedly I'll just be tired all the time. 

Fig. 3 ("It's tired in here")

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Matteo disturbing the peace.

Or possibly adding to it, if you think hearing live folk music on your doorstep in the 
afternoon sounds peaceful.

Matteo from Jake Larsen on Vimeo.

Matteo || Part 2 || from Jake Larsen on Vimeo.

You can watch them bigger and read a little bit about the experience here.

This was really fun to do. We were looking for an elderly Chinese man that Chip and Brinn know (apparently not that well), but he was no longer living at the address we had for him. Instead, by a truly weird coincidence, we were greeted by a young guy from China that was equally excited about the instruments and willing to hear us play a couple songs, and we even attracted a few passers-by.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Suite: Judy Blue Eyes

Sometimes a song or an artist that's been a part of my root system since I was a small child will unearth itself in a new light, wonderfully and inexplicably, as if it can feel that I need it in that new capacity. Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, and especially this performance of it, is at the moment revitalizing some long-forgotten foundational roots, and helping me dig myself in for the coming midsummer thunderstorms.

Suite: Judy Blue Eyes
Crosby, Stills, and Nash
It's getting to the point
Where I'm no fun anymore
I am sorry
Sometimes it hurts so badly
I must cry out loud
I am lonely
I am yours, you are mine
You are what you are
And you make it hard.

Remember what we've said and done and felt
About each other
Oh babe, have mercy
Don't let the past remind us of what we are not now
I am not dreaming.
I am yours, you are mine
You are what you are
You make it hard.

Tearing yourself away from me now
You are free and I am crying
This does not mean I don't love you
I do, that's forever,
Yes and for always
I am yours, you are mine
You are what you are
You make it hard.

Something inside is telling me that
I've got your secret.
Are you still listening?
Fear is the lock, and laughter the key to your heart
And I love you.
I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are
You make it hard
And you make it hard.

Friday evening, Sunday in the afternoon
What have you got to lose?
Tuesday morning, please be gone I'm tired of you.
What have you got to lose?
Can I tell it like it is? (Help me I'm suffering)
Listen to me baby.
It's my heart that's a suffering (Help me I'm dying)
It's a dying, that's what I have to lose
I've got an answer
I'm going to fly away
What have I got to lose?
Will you come see me Thursdays and Saturdays?
What have you got to lose?

Chestnut brown canary
Ruby throated sparrow
Sing the song don't be long
Thrill me to the marrow.

Voices of the angels, ring around the moonlight
Asking me, said she's so free
How can you catch the sparrow?

Lacy, lilting, lyric, losing love, lamenting
Change my life, make it right
Be my lady.

Que linda me la traiga Cuba,
La reina de la Mar Caribe.
Cielo sol no tiene sangre allí,
y que triste que no puedo vaya,
Oh va, oh va, va.

(Translation: Oh, what beauty Cuba brings me,
The queen of the Caribbean Sea,
Sunny sky has no blood over there,
And how sad that I cannot go,

Oh go, oh go, go.)
P.S. Get this: Woodstock was CSN's 2nd show, ever. Granted, they were all famous before they got together, so they're seasoned performers, but I still think that's pretty cool. 

Love, Luke.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lighter Things

I'm going to a screening of this on Friday!

Also, I changed the blog up a bit today, visually. It feels like an apartment that I'm finally getting around to decorating.

Breakups, feminism, and now politics! Aren't you glad you read my blog?

I promise I'm a happy, optimistic person. I really am, but sometimes, things just get me down.

Prologue: Andy Hoffmann, one of my favorite professors at the U, sent me an email that said:
"Isn't it beautiful the way we carry tunes? I think this is why my heart is so broken about the oil spill, because I know sea critters carry tunes as well. Apocalypse is heavy."

I don't know if you have read about this, but I was unaware of it until today. Apparently, Nigeria has been the focal point of spills from many international oil companies for the past 50 years, amounting to more oil spilled per year than has been lost so far in the Gulf of Mexico. I know the recent gulf spill has only been going for a few months, and it is certainly horrific. It's just funny/awful to me that the developed western world is so willing to literally ravage the third world for the sake of its prosperity, and that it takes so long for anyone to say anything about it. I'm growing incredibly weary of this pattern, friends.

It's also funny/awful to me that even once something like this happens on our own soil, our population is so quick to just direct all our anger at a company like BP, who really did nothing other than to take on the risks associated with running an oil company, which is necessary in order to supply the needs of a country whose upper classes will point their fingers and yell"F*** BP!!!" at the MTV movie awards while their town cars idle in the back parking lot. In the meantime, the lower classes watch this on TV and feel that they are responding adequately to the situation; we're all fighting the big guys, right? There's a serious cause/effect disconnect happening here. The fact that BP is trying to throw blame around for the corrupt and brazen policies that led to this particular spill becomes ironic and sickening when we realize it's only a reflection of the attitude of our entire populace. It's what we all do every time we max out a credit card (I don't get paid enough, I needed new ______ for ______), every time I drive instead of bike because it's raining, or because I'm tired, every time we lift that bag into that magic green trash-be-gone compartment on the side of the road (Landfills? Gross!). As humans, we are incredibly adept at circumventing blame, which seems like a survival mechanism that may have worked well for hunter-gatherers, but in my mind it's a boulder we're all tied to as we try to pull our weight toward the promise of a peaceful global society. How do we learn to own up to our mistakes, all of our mistakes, every time? To live more sustainably? How do we teach the next generation?

I'm realizing now that a lot of these ideas I have about human nature stemmed from reading Freud's Society and its Discontents in a Theory class last year. I didn't understand it very well that time, so I'd like to re-read it.

"Why is the sky brown, mom?"
"Well, BP did it."
"Dang those poop-heads!"
"I'd ask you to watch your language Jeorg, but no words are too cruel for those villains. Now let's get in the van, or we'll be late for your painting class."

Side-note: Anyone want to buy my car?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco de Birthday!

I was wandering through folders of old school stuff,
old pictures, and other miscellany on my computer today,
and I found this.

The lyrics still mean more to me
than they have any right to,
so thanks Bishop Allen :)

I recorded/filmed it last August,
and I did so for the purpose of posting it here,
but somehow it just felt too present to me,
so I backed out.
It was more than I wanted to say right then.

But I'm twenty years old today,
and I feel happy.
I truly love my family,
my supportive, quirky, singing parents
and my two amazing brothers
(coming soon: an amazing sister too!)
I have friends who care about me,
and music that carries me.
I couldn't dream of a better foundation to structure a life around.

My life is good.
Thank you everything.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Let's have us a conversation! accidental part 2

I wrote this as a comment on the last post, but I got an error from Blogger because it was too long :) so, you'll just get it as a regular contribution to the 'ol blog:

Look at this! What a great conversation :) I'm so happy, reading through all of this. Jessica, take your time.

Esther, you rock. Here are my thoughts after reading your comment:

First, I think the reason I shy away from the 'feminist' label is the same reason I shy away from a 'liberal' label. In reality, I'm both of those things, but I'm more interested in having conversations with conservatives and non-feminists than I am in just talking with people that think the same way as I do. If you sit down at a table with a bunch of conservative thinkers and say, "Hi! I'm a liberal. Let's have a conversation," it's not nearly as productive as just having the conversation without prefacing it with labels or expectations on either side. Lots of my friends are decidedly not feminists, but I want them in on the conversation because they have good, thoughtful minds and I think they could use good conversations like this more than anyone else I know. But once I say 'feminist,' they stop listening.

I love what Esther said about promiscuity and the possibility that media can, in fact, promote healthy sexual expression. Sex in the City is an interesting example too, because none of the characters on the show have really become celebrity sex objects in the way that, say, some of the cast of Desperate Housewives has. I think that's significant.

The only gender-opposite term I can think of for "whore" is "womanizer," and while it's not a positive term, it's significant that the female version isn't "Mananizer." Still, I think the idea that men are all congratulating each other for notches on bedposts doesn't work exactly like it does on TV either. That men care more about physical love than emotional love is just as destructive a blanket-statement as women caring more about emotional love than physical love. They're pseudo-scientific cultural cop-outs that I'm not interested in.

Here's another example to throw in the mix: Victoria's Secret. In theory (rather idealistic theory, yes), lingerie is a product that essentially exists for the purpose of helping women to empower their bodies and get in touch with their sexuality. In a healthy personal relationship, feeling sexy and having physical admiration for your partner is more than important; it's necessary. Physicality is deeply human and exploring our bodies should be celebrated. The problem is, you have to run a successful company in a capitalist economy, and when your product is sexual in nature, how do you advertise it? Their advertisements become primarily directed at the attention of men: Wear this, girls, and you could be as attractive to men as our models are! Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've never talked to a single woman who feels empowered by Victoria's Secret's commercials or magazines. They usually feel inadequate, which unfortunately a pretty powerful way to sell a product. To get you to buy their lingerie, they've taken the route of making you believe they possess a level of sexual capital that you don't.

That's the root of a lot of these problems, I think: when sexuality is culturally understood on a sliding scale, 1-10, as something you can compare from person to person, something that's not innately individual, the whole culture loses a really wonderful, important part of its humanity. Our culture has developed such an innately weird understanding of what we all have to offer as individuals. Have you ever gotten to know somebody that wouldn't have made you do a double-take in the street, but becomes OVERWHELMINGLY physically attractive to you because you connect with them in a powerful way? We have the ability to make connections that are real, and THAT is where deeply human physicality comes in. Evolutionary psychology tries to explain things like modern male fetishization of large breasts as some kind of subconscious disposition towards fertility or nurturing qualities, but I think that's silly. The double-takes in the street aren't deeply human, they're culturally learned, through a lifetime of bombardment from Victoria's Secret advertisements.

Lastly I'm SO glad you're all willing to talk with me about this :) I'm very aware that as much as I can contribute as a male feminist, I'll never really understand it the way you kids can (Inside joke alert: Jessica thinks 'kid' is a primarily male noun, so I'm on a quest to use it for women whenever I can.). So understand that my intentions are usually good, and correct me when I'm wrong, and let's keep talking.

I had to copy and paste this into Word in order to get it here, and as it turns out, it's longer than the essay I'm supposed to be writing. Productivity!

Love, Luke

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

let's have us a conversation!

I've never really talked about my feminism on this blog before, which is interesting. That's probably one of the few times I've ever called it "feminism," which is also interesting. Not sure I like the label and everything it implies.

It's on my mind today for a fairly stupid reason, but one that I'll talk about anyway because I've been reading Antony and Cleopatra for 3 hours and I need a break.

So, anyone else watch Glee? No? The stupid musical TV? Me either. Not after this last episode, anyway. I started watching it because in the first few episodes they took on some really interesting issues: homosexuality, comprehensive sex ed in high schools, etc. The show was surprisingly progressive, delivered in high-school-musical-esque packaging, and that interested me. Plus, in the first episode they covered Don't Stop Believin', which was pretty great. So I proceeded to give Glee the benefit of the doubt, long after I realized the music was going to be awful, long after I stopped being interested in the characters, long after the show's only saving grace (Jane Lynch's character) stopped making me laugh.

Finally, in last week's episode, whatever was keeping me watching the show disintegrated fantastically. All I could do was shake my head at the ridiculous quicksand the show fell into in its attempt to make an episode centered around female empowerment. It's not really Glee's fault - just about every TV show that has ever been touted as a feminist project has at some point walked on the wrong line of the empower-your-sexuality/objectify-your-body conundrum.

Feminist Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer was supposed to be a show that centered around a radical reversal of gender roles: take the voiceless, helpless female character from every horror movie ever and turn her into the only person in the world with the power to stop the bad guys. Problem: as the show gained popularity and Sarah Michelle Gellar became a celebrity, Buffy got skinnier and blonder, and the producers (even Joss Whedon himself) stepped back and amassed their fortunes as she became a sex object. Working within our celebrity/sex driven culture, true feminism doesn't really sell, but objectification sells under a feminist flag, and boy does it sell. As professionals in television, even those with good intentions, I understand why it's an easy precipice to fall over. Glee's infraction, however, seems at least a little more obvious to me. They wanted to make a feminist episode, and they picked Madonna as their epitome of the empowered female musician.

Madonna is a confusing feminist case, much like Buffy. She's a strong woman, with a lot of cultural power, but in the end it's all based around the sexualization of her image. We've been talking about the difference between Elizabeth I and Cleopatra in my Shakespeare class, their different modes of power. Cleopatra sexualized herself and was absolutely worshipped by the whole world for it, whereas Elizabeth I never married, never allowed herself to be sexualized. Cleopatra is, in the end, still sort of a feminist figure, in that she had complete control over her sexuality; the worldwide worship wasn't exactly objectification. I think the difference primarily lies in the mass media we're talking about. Madonna's sexual strength might actually be empowering if it wasn't subjugated by record companies to turn a profit. Some feminists (not myself, thanks. For obvious reasons, I can't support the near-complete obliteration of the male gender) consider lesbian revolution as the ultimate goal, , but even lesbianism is sexually fetishized in our culture, so media that tries to feature lesbians often gets sold in a sexual context. The root of the problem is this: Female sexuality isn't anti-feminist. But female sexuality as media, as an advertising tool, as an image-based way of grabbing our attention, fuels one of the most powerful (and elusive) anti-feminist cultural problems we have; the omnipresence of the male gaze.

So, how do we reconcile our personal quest for healthy individual sexuality with our culture's sexual media? Who knows. Let's figure it out though, okay? I have an idea for starters:

This summer I want to organize a night called "Great Songs of Misogyny: As Performed by Women!" I think it would be an interesting and non-abrasive, plus it's be a fun way to introduce some of my musician friends to each other. And come on, there are just so many songs to choose from :) My only request is that this gem of a song gets played at some point. And that is why I think this is a good idea; I absolutely LOVE that song, even though I understand how ridiculous the lyrics are. Music is about feel, and bad lyrics can rarely overpower an infectiously great piece of music. In the end, it would just be a night of really great music, with a potentially thought-provoking juxtaposition.

Okay, maybe we'll talk about this again at some point. See you!


p.s. One more thing: contrary to you may think after reading this, I don't dislike Joss Whedon, not at all. If you haven't seen Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog or any of his Firefly/Serenity project, you should. He's fantastic.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

TIme can be Deceived, and other things I learned in Big Sky Country

"To beguile the time,/ Look like the time"
-Lady Macbeth
Macbeth Act I.5, l.62-63

Thesis: Time is a corruptible prison-guard. If you act like you've already got a way out, she gets curious and jealous and gives you the keys anyway, if only until you slip up and give yourself away. Still, temporary relief can be incredibly welcome relief.

Sub-Thesis: The local joke in Missoula is that their town is 5 minutes away from Montana. It's a microcosm of weird hippie college culture inside a larger ecosystem of weird (sometimes hippie) cowboy culture. A psychological and cultural anomaly.

Synthesis: My time in Missoula gave me an opportunity to act as though I wasn't dead in the middle of the space that I'm dead in the middle of.

Thank you, Jan, for the iPhone photos.

Thank you, Jacob, for the hospitality you pretended to hate.

Thanks to both of you for the love, friendship, and everything you bring out in me.

Thank you, Clark Fork River, for your presence. You were the universal solvent and catalyst through which this chemical sublimation took place. Thank you for your bridges, psychologically and physically forcing me to cross boundaries and confront the space around your edges everywhere I went.

Thank you, Montana, for your open country and your big sky, your striking mountains, your run-down mining towns, for your dusty antiques store that offered me up an underpriced, vintage, brandless guitar amp. Your kindness is not lost on me.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

And it all amounts to this, my darling

Photo: Simon Williams

Alright, for the none of you that have stayed with me through this weird/long/fragmented essay-like thing that's happened spontaneously over the past four days on this blog, I have a little something for your aural enjoyment. I'm releasing this single, called "Stillness" (After a thematic section of Four Quartets), because in a way, I think that it's my contribution to this discussion about time and heartbreak and healing and circularity and the fullness of humanity. It's among my very favorite songs that I've ever written, so I feel kind of weird giving it to you outside of the context of an album release. All I can say is that the process of recording this, being back in the studio with Simon, has completely energized me. I'll tell you right now that a full-length Luke Williams record will be coming next summer. It's going to be stripped down, much less electric than the Ancient Eyes EP, looser, more raw. So for now, enjoy this little gift, from me to all of you who are so faithfully supportive of me and my musical endeavors.

And with that, I'm off to Missoula, Montana for some much-needed time by myself and with old friends.

I love you,


Luke Williams - Guitar, Vocals, Banjo, Tambourine
Simon Williams - Vocals, Sound Engineering, Mixing
Clay Williams - Vocals
Scott Williams - Vocals
Alice Williams - Vocals


Numb, my fingers and toes
Catch me before I sink down under
Trusting the breaststroke
To carry me home
I'm caught in the undertoe

Spinning sand and water
Tumbling I kiss the darkest abyss
Soon will resume,
It comes from the moon

Movement without motion
Stillness containing so much, so soft
So condescending
Such visibility,
So much nothing

I can see for miles and miles
What a beauty, such a vision
Ample stalls can feel so empty
Vastness of a lonely prison, and
Like the winter solstice I'm
All aligned with nothing, nothing,
Frigid blue is all I hear, and it
All amounts to this, my darling

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Time is a Circle, and Unredeemable

The reason that time has been so present in my thoughts lately is T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets, a collection of poems and lyrical prose from the man that is pictured above to be hanging out in my apartment with me and a disembodied hand. I had a professor ask me about seminal texts in my life, books that grounded me, changed me, books that I returned to. I was only introduced to Eliot about 6 months ago, but I've literally been reading this unassuming little book of poems constantly ever since. Much like Ray Lamontagne's "Trouble," It somehow inhabits a wholeness of human experience all at once.

Throughout Four Quartets, Eliot makes clear his obsession with time. Several other recurring concepts in the book have already made their way into songs that I've written this winter, but I think that time has been waiting for me, waiting for this week, to explode into every facet of my thought.

The book is laid out in four sections that archetypically represent the natural seasons. The first section, Burnt Norton, begins:

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.

Sort of cryptic-sounding at first, but it's pretty simple once you get past the initial syntactical confusion. Eliot is a passionate disbeliever of linear time. At the very least, he's a firm voice for the necessity of living outside of its grasp, of understanding and embracing circularity. I'm going to try.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always -
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned not of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

Thanks for the comfort, T.S.

Penultimately (I've got one last piece of this little blog-essay to give you tomorrow), I want to present you with the musician that first showed me what it felt like to encounter a piece of art that exhibited both sweetness and pain, that timelessness and fullness of human experience, like Four Quartets, like "Trouble." I tend to keep Kelly Joe Phelps hidden away from the world, because when my dad took me at 14 to see him play, I developed a really personal connection to the experience. I was taken in by much more than the virtuosity of his musicianship or the deep smokiness of his voice. Somehow the combination of his beautiful, mumbled lyrics and his presence as a performer really crept into the depth of my consciousness, through that back door that unlocks itself when you're in the presence of something truly great and your existence opens up, and you lose all sense of time.

Piece by Piece - Kelly Joe Phelps.

piece by lonely piece the mountainside tumbles away
back down to the river bottom lined with pocket worry stones
a hundred years in hand worn smooth by long grandmother nights
sitting by the rocking chair waiting for the world

oh, if I could roll back all the years and talk to my daddy's dad
about all the fears I’m leaving in that maybe he had had
I might get some light to shine down this dusty old dry well
hear the bucket hit the bottom and the rope come rolling by

when three hundred years has been the time from whence it came
why hadn't someone yet figured out to lower down the gun
and shoot out the middle of this clawing, staring eye?
hear the bucket hit the bottom and the rope come rolling by
sitting by that old rocking chair waiting for the world

It's only Time, it will go by

Thanks to Julia for pointing me to this Ray Lamontagne song. It fits perfectly into this internal conversation I'm having. I don't have any clever interpretations of this song, no connections to make at the moment. Just the hypnotic melody, and the lyrics, they speak for themselves:

Don't let your mind get weary and confused
Your will be still, don't try
Don't let your heart get heavy child
Inside you there's a strength that lies

Don't let your soul get lonely child
It's only time, it will go by
Don't look for love in faces, places
It's in you, that's where you'll find kindness

Be here now, here now
Be here now, here now

Don't lose your faith in me
And I will try not to lose faith in you

Don't put your trust in walls
'Cause walls will only crush you when they fall

Be here now, here now
Be here now, here now

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Time is a Salt, according to Shakespeare

"Your lordship, though not clean past your youth, have yet some smack of age in you, some relish of the saltness of time in you."
- Falstaff, to the slightly younger Chief Justice
from The Second part of King Henry the IV
Act I, scene 2, l. 93-95

Falstaff is the quintessential voice of humanism, wit, and the common man in the Shakespeare canon. He is a constant voice for individual life over patriarchal nationalistic honor and, and he refuses to reminisce with his friends about joy in bygone days; his joy is eternal and almost zen-like. He lives in the moment, man. But time - and a brutally excessive drinking habit - have given Falstaff the gout and painful boils, among other innumerable diseases. It's also found him in his 70s, joyful but acutely aware of his naturally-imposed limits. Falstaff evades the recognition of time because he understands that, in the end, it exhibits only saltness and deterioration, contributing nothing essential to his life.

"Well, thus we play the fools with the time, and the spirits of the wise sit in the clouds and mock us."
-Prince Hal, on his inaction.
from The Second Part of King Henry IV
Act II, scene 2, l. 133-134

Foolishly spent time is time spent being mocked by our ancestral collective wisdom. So the question is, what is time spent foolishly? How can we possibly know? It seems like more often than not, I get advice that sounds like "All you can really do is wait." It's the trite old expression "time heals all wounds," but when all I do is wait and expect answers, I feel foolish. I feel like I'm playing the fool with time. I guess it's possible that the spirits of the wise are jaded, that they forget what it's like to be human, to feel, to have your understanding constricted to patient grains of sand at the midpoint of an hourglass. They mock us in their wisdom because they are proud, because they've already paid their dues and waited and expected answers and felt foolish and maybe they got them and maybe they didn't, but either way they're not waiting for anything anymore.

They've stopped wondering if they'll always feel this way/so empty, so estranged.

But you and I haven't stopped wondering, Ray. Understand, I don't compare my life to yours. You've been to hell and back so many times/you must admit I kind of bore you. And I'm appreciative of that. I hope I'm never so acquainted with that journey as you are. If I'd been born just a few miles north and a few years earlier, we would've gone to the same high school, but you ditched class and got in fights and it took you so long to ever pull yourself together. You would have had no sympathy for me, overprivileged, overconfident, idealistic, and I know that. Even so, your music means something significant to me, so thank you. Thank you for your inspired confusion of physicality, early morning beauty, sexuality, emotional hardship, and thunderstorms. In the end, there's a lot of things neither of us understand/why so many people lie.

I had a great conversation with Kimberlee about Ray Lamontagne's album "Trouble." It's inspiringly hopeful and desperately sad, often at the same time. The whole thing just feels so incredibly human.

I think the word is "timeless," and that's of interest to me now more than ever.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Time is a Soothsayer, Supposedly

I want time to tell me those things. Right now. Okay? Isn't that how it works?

What about you, Nick Drake? Can you just tell me? How did you get such an overwhelmingly satisfying response? Time seems pretty cryptic, at least to me.

If time told you all that, then why did you overdose? But we are different people. Maybe that's not what you were looking for. Or maybe time lied to you, and told you the real story later, she felt bad about her dishonesty.

Time is a human construct anyway, isn't she? We created our own prophetess, just like the Greeks created their Gods, their oracles. Humans have always needed them. But the seers at Delphi overdosed too. They didn't like what they saw. Maybe time doesn't either, and maybe that's why she lied to you, Nick. Maybe I just want her to lie to me, too.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I've been meaning to write about my uncle Paul's show that's on display at Finch Lane (The Art Barn) right now, but then somebody did it for me!
15 bytes is an online zine about local art in Salt Lake, and they just did a lengthy and very cool write-up of the show. Read it here. Great photo of him as well.

I love Paul. He is truly one of my favorite human beings. Ever since I was little, I've connected with him on a really personal level. The effortless joy and kindness he emanates, almost in spite of himself, and his dedication to expression through art have always made him an important role model in my life. He's always been interested in me as well, and as we've shared music and ideas over the years he's always showed me a kind of adult respect that really empowered me and fostered my thought, especially concerning music and art.

I also love Paul's art, so it means a lot when I say that this is, by far, my favorite group of paintings I've ever seen from him. I have so much to say about the show, but I'd rather you just go see it for yourself. Take some time to explore the depth of the world of marks and subtleties he creates, and then call me and we'll talk about it. Or just let me know when you're going so I can come too :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Just Something I've Been Meaning To Do.

I've consistently had a beard since the summer after my Junior year of High School.
I've been clean-shaven twice since then, both times
over a year ago.
My girlfriend would have been furious, but she's gone now so
Why not? I hear they grow back.

(Thanks to Simon for the before-and-after shots)

Also, I look quite a bit older than I am when I have a beard.
That was the coolest of cool when I was a High School Senior,
But maybe it's time to just look my age for a change.
19, I like you just fine.
I'm trying to be a more honest, open, sincere,
trustworthy, responsible person,
So maybe this is symbolic of that in some stupid way.
I want you to see my face.

Also, I get attached to things easily. I'm cautious and I resist change.
It'd be nice to be different, but sometimes all you can do is accept
That you'll probably never cut your hair short on a whim,
Or move out of your memory-filled,
month-to-month apartment just for fun,
Or kiss someone and say it's just a fling,
It's not serious or meaningful;
In the absence of that, you rejoice in little victories,
You write a new song on a new instrument
That adds depth and texture to the thickly-stained body of memories
In your apartment
And you shave your beard all the way off.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Blue Horizon: On the border of Sexuality, Violence, and Artistry

I've been keeping this one mostly to myself for a while (that said, the readership of this blog contains 100% of the people I've showed the song to thus far). I heard the damn thing about 2 months ago and it's been filling up the semi-periphery of my consciousness ever since.

I decided to write a creative essay about the song, and it's become one of those projects that spirals out into something that feels important to me, something I would have been probably written whether I was assigned to or not. I am so grateful for Andy Hoffmann, one of my favorite professors at the U, who let me write a long-form poem/essay instead of a weighty, academic rhetorical analysis simply because he could tell I was passionate about it.

As much as I do have passion for it, and as happy as I am to have written it, I think at the state it's in I consider it to be a failed essay. Lofty aspirations, which remain unmet. So I'm posting it here, and I've given it to some writer friends, with the hope that I can get some really harsh, constructive critique that will help me help it to find its own potential greatness. I'm pretty sure it's in there somewhere.

So, if you're bored/have time to help me out, The essay is here, 
and this is the song:

Suggestion: Maybe read the introduction to the essay (everything before the poem), then listen to the song, then read the poem. Or not. Essentially, they need to be considered together, but the song can't just be background music to the poem. 


Monday, January 25, 2010

The Crowkeeper

I was reading Shakespeare at 1 in the morning last night and I came across the word Crowkeeper; an amazing, antiquated synonym for Scarecrow. I tried to go to bed but my head started composing this, so I got up and wrote for a while, and this is what came. Song? I'll let you know if it progresses in that way. For now, just something.

The crowkeeper’s kept no promises made

The evergreen martyr confined to the everglade

The crowkeeper holds for one season his tract

            The other spent mourning his fruitless entrapment

The crowkeeper, rough, from burlap was sewn

            One cornfield to keep, one garden to own

The crowkeeper’s brim stays steady the sun

            His knots are tied strong but his spirit’s undone.

The crowkeeper tires of his endless charade

            Sleeplessly silent, his fashioned façade

The crowkeeper, primed for his battle with jet

            The ink of the backdrop with ink-foes is met

The crowkeeper steadies his bludgeon, his stare,

            To meet the impending, the knights of the air

The crowkeeper fends off the nightly advance

            He trusts in his stillness, his motionless dance


Keeper, keep us cradled now

Fast, the dusk encroaches

Charcoal falls, we feel it settle

Weary as we are somehow

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

so much music in such little time. also, jane austen.

Firstly, MATTEO EP!!! It's all recorded, I'm just mixing and mastering now. Last Friday and Saturday were the most productive two days of my life, bar none. I got to Studio K Street (A house my parents own. Sounds pretty cool though, eh?) to set up equipment at 8am on Friday, and by 10pm Saturday we had recorded 7 songs. Just to give you a frame of reference, when I recorded my own 7 song EP, it took me almost nine months. Granted, I was playing the instruments all myself, plus I was arranging the songs as I went. Recording is a whole different game when you've got a well practiced group of talented musicians, and when each of the songs is already arranged. Side-note: Chip and Brinn are really, really good people.

On Monday, I got to spend some quality time with Julia Mecham, and we wrote a song! Cool! You can listen to it here. Julia wrote everything that needs to be said about the song on her blog, so I'll just say it's a fun, bouncy little boy/girl duet. Also, be warned, she wrote some very flattering things about me on her blog. Don't believe everything you read, friends.
I want to write about what an amazing musician/person I think Julia is, but if I do it right now it'll sound disingenuous coming right after what she wrote, so I think I'll skip it for now and write a big post about her when we get her EP done. Short version: Julia is a person who writes and lives beautifully.

Side-Note: I've written about these guys before, but Pomplamoose is a really cool band. I'm writing about them today because it would seem as though they were thinking similarly to Julia and I this weekend. They just put out their new video/song, which is a fun, bouncy little boy/girl duet. Their lyrics are sillier than ours, and they don't do the back-and-forth thing, but come on guys. Still a pretty cool coincidence. Plus the chords they use are great and weird, and I love how much fun they have making those videos. Hooray!

Tuesday was recording project number three. This was an interesting one for me, the first time I've ever been in a real recording studio, which Davey procured for what I understand to be a couple six-packs of beer and some sun chips as payment. There was something really magical about that studio for me, but the feeling was complicated by the fact that I have so little understanding of so much of the tech behind the music/recording process. Microphone diaphragms? Amplifiers? Mic placement? I'm learning a bit about all of those things, but mostly I have no clue. Anyway, I think it came off sounding a little loose, but my guess is that it'll work for the couple scenes in which it's needed.

And now, as I conclude this post, I return to the desperate exploits of Catherine as she fends off the bumbling rattle Mr. John Thorpe and pursues the strange yet charming Mr. Henry Tilney, who knows all about the finest muslin. Superficial Isabella, John Thorpe's little sister and Catherine's BFF, wants to get it on with Catherine's brother, James. Don't worry, I'll let you know how it all pans out.