These Were the Earlies
“Mother Mary and the Morning Wonder, take me home.”
No review of The Earlies’ “These Were the Earlies” would be sufficient without giving due mention of this line. It’s the only line in
the album’s intro “In the Beginning…” and it’s the one of two lines repeated through track “Morning Wonder.” In closer “Dead Birds” the line crops up in abbreviated form as the band signs off with “Mother Mary, take me home.” It’s the foundational sentiment of the album, but what it means, I’m not quite sure.
If nothing else, it has a spiritual element to it. The line contrasts the rigidity of a largely Catholic entity (Mother Mary) with the undefined qualities of the more mystic “Morning Wonder.” It’s an interesting juxtaposition, but the album as a whole leans considerably more to the mystic end of the continuum than the former.
A collection of partially dream-like songs, the album includes lyrics that pivot on spiritual ideas and ethereal, instrumental melodies. Themes include existential angst (“One of Us Is Dead”), sight and blindness (“25 Easy Pieces”), Sunday morning (“Bring it Back Again”) and of course, being taken home by Mother Mary.
In the album’s best track (“The Devil’s Country”) the band strays from its predominately celestial formula, trading the bulk of the electronics for drums and horns. With parts much akin to a pep band fight song, the track keeps its feet on the ground. It’s appropriate, considering the name of the song. The pep band is employed again, to a lesser degree, in closer “Dead Birds.”
The rest of the tracks are conversely mellow and other-worldly. They represent some kind of spiritual journey with “home” as the preferred destination. Song titles like “Wayward Song” and “Slow Man’s Dream” give you a sense of what we’re dealing with here. Lyrics are pretty much up for interpretation. The band lays down lines like “Those things we thought of, when will they get back to where they once belong?” in “Song for #3” and “The clock can’t see in front of itself, it only sees from behind” in “25 Easy Pieces.” That last one is funny because I always thought clocks had faces, which (using a little personification) tells me they do see from the front.
Overlooking logical shortcomings in the lyrics, “These Were the Earlies” is not without a sort of depth. The Earlies, with their incoherence
and vagueness, give latitude for contemplation.
The musical composition is full without being burdensome, resulting in an appropriate medium for the band’s message. And that message is,
clearly, something about Mother Mary and
wanting to go home.