02 February 2006


Aside from my husband, Ellis Paul is one of my favorite songwriters. He’s from Boston, well, Maine originally, and I have always thought Boston was a good place (the one time I visited), and always dreamed of going to Maine. I collected lighthouses for awhile, trying to create beacons of hope on my living room mantle. My favorite story growing up was the Robert McCloskey book, One Morning In Maine. The book was about a little girl and her older sister going out to dig for clams on the seashore one breezy morning, one morning in Maine. They, along with their gentle doe-eyed father, took a small-engined boat from their house to the beach, yelling up to the seagulls along the way. Then the little girl lost a tooth in the sand and was so worried that she would miss the tooth fairy with nothing to place beneath her pillow until her father reassured her. She had these most amazing parents who didn’t seem to get angry when she spilled her glass of milk at the breakfast table and let the dog lap it up. They didn’t grow impatient when she dropped her ice cream cone and threw a little fit. They just bought her another one. I was always dropping my ice cream and throwing fits.

One afternoon in a store, my sister was buying a silver ring with a dangling charm for her best friend’s birthday. I wanted a silver charm ring too; my mother said no. Sometimes, like many mothers I suppose, she’d say no without providing a good reason, and that was something my small-minded concept of injustice couldn’t quite reconcile. Perhaps she did give me a reason, but I chose not to hear it. Instead, I threw myself down on the floor of the jewelry store and refused to move. I kicked my feet and beat my fists, my face red as a beet. I flattened myself out into a stiff piece of cardboard until finally my mother, at her wit’s end, picked me up like a large baguette and carried me out to our Pinto. In the back seat, I continued my temper tantrum, pulling my mother’s hair and covering her eyes as she drove. I pushed my feet hard against the back of her driver’s seat. As she swerved and screamed and my sister swatted, I pressed my small fingers over my mother’s eyes, pulling back with all my might. I never got the silver charm ring. This was the first time my heart felt torn from my chest. Oh, the drama of youth...(and my poor mother!)

Ellis has had his heart torn too. He sang an album full of songs all about it, songs about hindsight and melting colors and flying hot air balloons. But my favorite song is the one he wrote called “Weightless.” It’s about a woman who owns a house where he sometimes stays while traveling around the country with his guitar. This old woman has a rare kind of faith that Ellis doesn’t understand but is somehow drawn to, and the song is about his contemplation of the beauty of her faith. He can pour so much meaning into simple words, weaving his heart into these musical poems, letting us see all his searching.


Jenni said...

That is one of my favorite stories about your childhood - it makes me laugh every time! And reading about Ellis makes me very nostalgic for the times you and I saw him at Mucky Duck. Remember when you purposefully bumped into him outside of Mucky Duck, you sly thing?

Christine said...

Kierst, I love picturing your mom carrying you out like a baguette - hee hee! SUCH a great story. What is your most highly recommended Ellis Paul album?


Christine said...

By the way, I have to read that storybook on Maine :) Kierst, you would love that place. Here are a few photos of mine from Maine for you today ~ to inspire you to dream :)

How about a visit to this cute roadside country store?

View from your back yard one day :)

kierstin said...

It's so tough to choose, but I'd say A Carnival of Voices or Translucent Soul for my must-have Ellis albums. The Live CD would be a good compromise and has great stories in between songs. Also, "Conversation with a Ghost" on his early album Stories is a beautiful song, and features Patty Griffin on background vocals.

Thanks for the photos! Now I want to see Maine even more.

Jenni said...

Conversation With a Ghost - what a great song. I'd kinda forgotten about it - thank you for reminding me. I need to pull out Ellis' CDs today and listen. And I need that Live CD!

Julie said...


Thanks for keeping great children's books alive!
I think McCloskey's stuff was wonderful, in a very surreal sort of way (now having the hindsight of parenthood)...My favorite was
"Blueberries for Sal". Kids picking blueberries in Maine and having to deal with a bear! What excitement!
And it somehow seems OK, as the bear must have attended the same "how to deal with kids" classes as their parents...

I admit after reading your story I sided with Mom...When it happens to you personally...laugh out loud. Life does have a very circular pattern to it at times!

RJM said...

Dear Kierstin,

As someone who’s written wonderful words about the great music coming from singer songwriter Ellis Paul – first I’d like to tell you thank you. I’ve been Ellis Paul's friend and manager since 1992 and his music, words and friendship are jewels in my life. Upon examining the state of the music industry, Ellis and I have realized that far and away the most important connections that we have are not at all on the business side of the equation – it’s the people that love Ellis’ music. They’re more important than the biggest retailer or the most powerful radio station - so we’re starting a campaign to empower the people. Ellis’ new album “The Day After Everything Changed” was completely funded by his fans and is one of the finest he’s ever recorded. Many of Ellis' fans and folks passionate about great songwriting don’t even know that it’s been released. So if you’d like to help support a truly independent artist – here’s how. The lead single track on TDAEC is “Annalee”, and if you go to www.ellispaul.com/free you can download “Annalee” for free. Unlike so many other free song offers – you don’t have to give us your email, sign up or register for anything at all. It’s free for the taking. The small favor we would ask? Please share it with any and all of your friends that would enjoy Ellis’ music. This would help our efforts and help spread the music. This truly is a campaign about the power of the people in the support of independent music and artists.

Please stay in touch.

And thank you.

Ralph Jaccodine, Manager