Grant Lee Buffalo released two great albums
Fuzzy and Mighty Joe Moon. They were released
in 1993 and 1994. I caught up with them a few years later,
a new friend loaned me the albums – I returned the favour
by giving her a copy of The Cat Inside by William S. Burroughs
and an anthology of Charles Bukowski (Run With The Hunted).
So, she was in Christchurch and I was in Wellington.
We wrote letters, traded tapes, I made a Suzanne Vega compilation.
We travelled to Auckland to see a festival that featured
Paul Kelly, the Melvins, Elvis Costello and Grant Lee Buffalo.
We started emailing. But the old-fashioned letters continued, as
we shared tapes and CDs, attended poetry readings and gigs
when we happened to be in the same island. And when that
was the case we’d drive around, windows down, cigarettes glowing
in the night, marvelling at how Fuzzy perfectly followed
Jupiter and Teardrop, and how Wish You Well perfectly followed
Fuzzy; but Lone Star Song was such a good opener on that other
record! And how could you go past Mockingbirds?
She had introduced me
to my new favourite band.
We shared a lot of memories around
those two albums, around seeing that band
and listening to them before and after.
We had our own memories too.
Maybe it was only me that was excited to spot
Greg Leisz’s pedal steel on Mighty Joe Moon,
and that Robyn Hitchcock and Michael Stipe
contributed backing vocals on the Jubilee album.
And maybe she had stories around discovering
that music first – that I would never know.
But every few years
I can dig out a Grant Lee Buffalo album
especially those first two
and I can play it right through
having both the best kind of nostalgia
and feeling like I’m listening to one of the very best
and underrated bands, well, underrated is probably not
the right word. They had fans. They even went down
the eventual road to reunion
and Grant-Lee Phillips has, presumably, carved out
enough of a career after – it was always about his songs, his voice.
Anyway, it’s nice to be reminded of those two
great albums – where they took me, what they mean
and of course just how they sound.
I have it on good authority
that my friend – the ‘she’ in this story – woke up
today to hear Mockingbirds and declared she’d
rather be in bed all day listening to that album
instead of traipsing off to work.
I know this because I was playing Mighty Joe Moon
at 7am, having blasted Fuzzy late last night.
And she heard it this morning
because we’ve shared a bed for nearly
two decades, married for most of it.
It’s the luck of the draw.