Some Reviews and a Conversation about the songs
PERFECT OBLIVIOUS MOON - 1999
Pat Maloney writes great poetry that happens to be set to music. He graces his
words with infectious melodies and a performance that conveys them to the listener on a silver platter. It’s surprising to come across someone of Maloney’s talent who is not on a major independent label. Maloney’s songs refute all the negative criticisms of contemporary singer-songwriters. …Unlike so many releases, “Perfect Oblivious Moon” fills the CD with almost an hour of memorable music…Maloney excels in fresh imagery and metaphor, creating a flow of fascinating words that build three-dimensional scenes within each song…Every song contains an image or a series of lines that jump off the CD and embed themselves in your mind…Maloney sings with a voice that might be compared to early John Prine after voice lessons…Welcome Pat Maloney to the pantheon of first-rate songwriters.”
Rich Warren, SingOut! 7/99
This is a wonderful collection of songs by Arizona singer-songwriter Pat Maloney, full of bittersweet emotion and startlingly vivid images. Every song overflows with phrases that jump up and grab you with their originality, wit and truth. He makes masterful use of song forms as well, skillfully managing internal rhymes and thematic repetition to make his words sink in even deeper. Maloney’s voice is reminiscent of John Prine’s: rough-hewn, twangy, and visceral; and he sings with a deceptively simple approach that remains sensitive to the subtle nuances of each song. The country-bluegrass arrangements are similiarily simple and tasteful. Highly recommended. Richard Middleton Victory Music Review
“Now based in Dewey, Arizona, Maloney has just released his third recording, “Perfect Oblivious Moon.” Like its two predecessors, the new CD is full of great songs, inspired singing, and beautiful, understated accompaniment. It would be hard to over-estimate Maloney’s talent. He’s a rarity; in a world of striving wordslingers, Pat Maloney is a natural songwriter. His words and melodies co-exist side by side; They’re inextricably bound - They share the same heart.”
Chuck Cuminale City Newspaper
Perfect Oblivious Moon –I carried the idea of this song around with me for a few years. I loved the idea so much that I was afraid to approach it. I came across a poem by Ezra Pound about the 12th century poet Li Po. One night Li Po was drunk and he saw the moon reflecting on the water and it was so beautiful that he fell in love with it and in trying to embrace the reflection he fell in the water and drowned. What a wonderful analogy for being a poet. Then I began thinking about the many ways that man thinks of the moon; as a thing of romance, as a thing that is worshipped, as a source of lunacy, as a thing that is prayed to and stared at and questioned and marveled at, as a poet’s touchstone. And all the time the moon just hangs there – never acknowledging us in the least. Sort of like God.
Down To The River On A Fine Brown Horse-As a boy, one of my favorite things to do was sit on our front porch (which had a red tin roof) during a thunder storm. I just loved the way the wind and the thunder and lightning raged and the water poured down and the muddy water filled the ditches and twisted and boiled. I felt like I was removed from the humdrum day and transported to some special place. So this song attempts to give vision to this feeling in the form of a beautiful, strong horse dashing through a rainstorm with me on his back, taking me to some other place, escaping from the prison of the mundane.
These Hard Times- I think if I had to pick one of my songs to stand for me, this would be the one. Stephen Foster has a song called, “Hard Times” and in it he calls out to the listener to think of the poor and the unfortunate and the careworn while we go about the business of enjoying our own lives: “While we seek mirth and beauty in music bright and gay, there are frail forms fainting at the door…” This is something I have thought about often. There are many people who do great things and give mightily of themselves to help others. So, what can be said of one who sits on the sidelines and writes songs as their life work? That’s the question this song addresses and I have tried to be as brutally honest with myself as I could. Knowing, as I do it, that it is what I have to give but also knowing that it is probably not enough. But, then again, what ever is? I believe that this is a beautiful, honest song and, to quote one of the song’s lines: “I’ll write my words and I’ll glibly sing and wonder always what relief a song can bring.”
My Heart is a Violin- I first came up with the line: “The heart is an organ,” but I thought the image a bit too visceral. I didn’t want the listener to go through the whole song thinking of this bloody, beating image. So, I turned to an old, well seasoned mellow instrument like the violin – able to portray sadness and regret and tears but also able to kick into an upbeat fiddle tune.
China Dog – This is the story of a young man who comes home one night to find his girlfriend gone along with all his possessions. The only thing she has left behind is his dog – His little china dog.
You Only Come Out At Night –I wanted this song to feel dark and mysterious and set in the dark, lonely streets of a big city. This fellow is chasing an image of a beautiful woman down empty, shadowy streets. Everything is in black and white except for the lady’s red dress which calls him on like a beacon. In the background a jazz horn is blowing and steam is billowing up from the manholes. Yea, Baby.
Raining Like Crazy – In performance, I like to introduce this song as a snappy little ditty about suicide. I come from Western NY and we can have long stretches of nothing but rain – enough to drive anyone crazy. And I always think of that childhood rhyme: “It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring; went to bed, bumped his head, and couldn’t get up in the morning!” My Uncle Johnnie woke up on a Sunday Morning and while everyone else was at mass, he dressed up in his best clothes and disappeared forever. It’s a family legend and no one ever knew what happened to him. He appears in the second verse- and, yea- it was raining.
The Trouble With a Fountain Pen – Here’s another one of those songs that comes to be through trying to work through writer’s block. I was thinking how hard it can sometimes be to put down on paper anything worth saying or to say what we feel correctly. I also thought about how dangerous it is to put something down on paper because you can never take it back. So writing can both frustrate you and expose you. It’s a bad business. Then I remember being in school and writing with a pen that leaks and gets all over your fingers and then onto your clothes. It’s a bad, messy business. So, anyway, here are just a few of the pitfalls and problems of brandishing a pen.
The Ghosts Are Dancing on the Rails- Hop aboard the ghost train for a trip through some of the geography of my youth. I’m sorry, but I believe that the trains of our youth and what they could summon up in the imagination of a small child are just too cool to disappear. They are still out there somewhere, chugging away and blowing their lonely whistles at all the crossroads of our memory. I grew up on a small farm and the train tracks cut through our property and I could hear the wail of the whistle late at night while I lay in my bed. What a soundtrack for melancholy!
We also had a small creek that flowed close to the tracks and those two things were what my childhood revolved around. I always thanked God for giving me those two things and the space and the weird psyche to build up a mighty fine fantasy world. Yes, the ghosts and the gandy dancers and the bums and hoboes are still riding the rails and I’m still tossing rocks and seeing if I can land one in an empty box car.
You and That Tambourine- This is a figurative trip through the places music and the muse can take you. It’s also me just having fun with words. I have thought a lot about Mr. Dylan’s Tambourine Man. “I’m ready to go wandering…” My older brother brought a Dylan record home from college when I was about 10 years old. Me and my younger brothers played it over and over and were fascinated by it. Not because we were hip or anything, but because we had never heard anything like this and we thought it was a comedy album. It was “The Freewheeling Bob Dylan.” Then some years later, I was lying in bed and “Desolation Row” came on the radio and I about died. I never knew songs could do this. I was hooked forever.
Some Of The Time- A few years back Rosie, my wife, and I went on a little getaway weekend to San Diego. In the course of that weekend, we had one of those meaningful conversations that men hate. She was saying how much she loved me and she loved the adventures we were having but that it was very hard for her to deal with my changeable nature. You know, one day I plan to do this and the very next day I am heading off in a different direction. She is very practical and pragmatic so if I say I want to do this or that, she will start packing only to find that I have changed my mind before the first shirt is folded. So, I wrote her this song to try to explain my nature.
The Girl With the Funny Mouth- Let me try to set the scene for this song. It’s a late night, smoky bar. There’s a torch singer on the stage belting out love songs and love gone wrong songs and sometimes her lips come together in such away that they resemble the bell of a trumpet or cornet. A lonely man walks in and takes a seat in the back, not talking to anyone, just listening to the singer and wallowing in the blues that she is conjuring. There are different weather fronts that pass through the atmosphere of the bar made up of smoke and perfume and whiskey fumes and laughter and clinking of glasses. The man comes to believe that the singer is singing just for him. She’s a pro and when she finds his eyes in the crowd, she locks onto them and he believes that not only is he falling in love with her but that the feeling is reciprocated. He is the only one for her. Of course, when the music ends and the bar closes down, he is still alone and his heart is broken just a wee bit more. Yea, but it hurts so good. He’ll go back tomorrow night and be hurt again.
Good Night- This is a cautionary tale about the dangers of the moon’s influence. Don’t trust the night. Don’t trust that romantic feeling that is coming over you and overcoming you. The night is a dangerous place and your heart is bound to take a beating. It’s all a trick designed to lure you in only to crush you when you least expect it. To quote the song, “The neon, fluorescent, and daylight are really much safer. The moon is no more than the Devil’s Communion Wafer.”