I went with Anne Carley to Vinegar Hill.
Anne Carley appropriately calls Vinegar Hill a “Story Song” but I’m pretty sure there’s more than one tale being told in this deceptively simple tune that on first listen, sounds sunny.
Vinegar Hill seems simple on the surface, it opens with a lovely guitar riff in that hands you an invitation to kick back and relax. When Anne’s sweet vocal comes in, light and innocent, you think you know where things stand.
So, if you want to pour your coffee and squeeze your oj while a summer breeze blows through your open kitchen window (not sure why I keep seeing sunny yellow kitchens with country curtains during the last couple of tunes on Sirenstories) and pretend there’s nothing suspicious about this song, then read no further, just enjoy the music.
But someone who refers to her music as “Brechtian tintype chamber-pop” probably isn’t going to write something simple, and sure enough, after one or two listens to Vinegar Hill, questions prickled my skin.
I started to wonder: why did the singer go to Vinegar Hill in the first place? The name doesn’t exactly sound like a vacation destination, so, it must be . . . ding! A metaphor.
Next. Who did she go with? Whoever it was, I’m a little worried about this character. The singer says, “One time I crossed that bridge (to Vinegar Hill) happy, the next time I crossed it, I crossed it alone.”
Am I just being haunted by John Laprade’s felon from yesterday’s post, or am I on to something?
The singer says going to Vinegar Hill felt like having all the time in the world, and yet, she doesn’t know the way back. I’m thinking, Lost weekend. You’ve seen that movie, right?
The biggest brain teaser is, why does Vinegar Hill remind the singer of Texas? It sounds like Vinegar Hill reminds her of Texas in a good way . . . and she sings about her oldest friend . . . but Anne Carley says, “Vinegar Hill is a neighborhood across the river from Manhattan” so I want to know, what’s the Texas connection?
Anne, you say Vinegar Hill is a story song. I want to know the rest of the story. Are we going to get a Vinegar Hill Part II? You know, if you don’t write it, one of the other Sirens is going to have to jump in and do it. John?
The singer took no pictures of the person she went to Vinegar Hill with, and she sounds slightly sad about that. But hey, pictures could wind up as evidence, right? Evidence of a broken heart? Or something more? ;)
Although you can’t learn more about the singer’s mysterious trip to Vinegar Hill now, you can learn more about Anne Carley—who I hope will understand I’ve had a bit of fun here with her beautiful song, which I obviously find inspiring—by clicking on the cover of her CD, Portfolio.
P.S. I know you know this, but Bertolt Brecht was a German poet, playwrite, and theater director who believed in collective and collaborative work methods. With that in mind, Anne would probably dig it if you wrote VH Pt. II and posted it on Sirenstories. Just sayin’.