Staring at the Sun (Songs 1973-1981)


SKU: 2005 Category:


Always a brave songwriter, Calhoun looks back at some of his first songs…his sensitivity to the human condition was in place early on…Some of the songs would be stunning from a writer of any age.” -Sing Out!

“…somber, heartfelt, and introspective songs are wonderfully presented along with his obvious acoustic guitar talents and his abundant gifts as a storyteller.”
– Dean Ramos, Illlinois Entertainer

“Andrew Calhoun’s songwriting has
the patience and clarity of a man who has lived a long time, who has loved, grieved,
and traveled much, who has put pen to paper faithfully through many scenes and
seasons. At the same time, Calhoun has a unique appreciation for the art of youth,
which has earned his Waterbug Records label a reputation for discovering and supporting
excellent young writers. It seems fitting, then, that Calhoun’s newest album,
Staring at the Sun, is a creative return to the work of his own youth.
Deftly, tenderly, Calhoun brings the depth and focus of his experience to the
vivid, inspired verse of his teenage years. The result is a poetic leap of faith;
songs that soar on broad wings, borne up by the urgency and beat passion of the
young and guided by the even-keeled wisdom of the ancients. Staring at the Sun
includes some of Calhoun’s bravest and most abstract songs; frenetic and poignant
by turns, they demand the listener’s full attention. Songs like “Kiss That
Goblet” elicit triumphant cries of “go man, go!” while others,
such as “John’s Wife,” inspire exquisite compassion and above all, silence.
Staring at the Sun is evidence that Calhoun is among the most fearless, gifted,
and avante poets of our time – keeping company with Leonard Cohen, Galway Kinnell,
etc. – and that he shows no sign of slowing down.”
-Anais Mitchell

16 songs, solo.

1. The Living and the Breathing Wind
2. Walk Me to the War
3. Circle of Killers
4. History
5. Kiss That Goblet!
6. I Have Run and I Have Crawled
7. Atmospheres
8. Broken Boundaries
9. A Seat in the Mezzanine
10. God Told Me I Could Come
11. From Time to Time
12. Moses
13. John’s Wife
14. Eugene
15. Walking Through Sand
16. Deliver Me

Andrew’s letter to a reviewer:

I’ve been listening to Paul Curreri’s music, and sometimes it opens up a
world for me, rich and detailed, and other times – the same recording –
become impervious. So I figure he’s good. To me
that point of risk, of ambivalence, makes it interesting. He’s offering
something other than what I’m expecting. and, as a listener, I have to earn
it, but him trusting me to make that journey establishes a relationship that
has real value. The writer’s job isn’t to explain something about reality –
which assumes the artist knows something about reality the listener
doesn’t – it’s simply to evoke it. To awaken. What listeners don’t always
get is that when you’re writing a song you’re hearing it in a way for the
first time the same way they are – for me my best songs are the ones that
come out of the blue and if I know too much about what i want them to say I
mess them up. There’s a sense of following a charged path of energy…they
aren’t “about” as much as they are “of” and the “of” is something emotional
that there aren’t terms for, except in art. So my poetry is a kind of
different way of talking, but it’s not really addressing the linear mind and
can’t be interpreted by it without losing its dimension. Which I don’t doubt
makes it hard to review. I can’t describe what I do either.
There was a rough period for me in the late eighties, a woman I knew
married this brilliant oddball guy from rural Kentucky who spoke with a
British accent he’d adopted from Dylan Thomas records. At that time, and the
time of “Sun” songs, there was a small number of people who loved my songs
and a larger number who dismissed them as “depressing.” It took me years to
figure out that those people were talking about their fear of their own
feelings, that the songs were asking them to go places they didn’t want to
go. And that that wasn’t my problem. I felt misunderstood and discouraged.
This guy Bob sat down and lit a pipe in someone’s kitchen in New Hampshire
and took about 15 minutes to tell me why he liked my songs – “the
unconscious rightness of the intuitive connections” – and it made a big
difference to me – it was affirmation that the songs aren’t personal – that
no matter how obscure they might be to “the general public”, they were
complete and real to someone who didn’t know me,
the information was universally accessible. I’ve held back the songs on Staring at the Sun.
For many years I couldn’t
sing them right. But I found a way back in. What I want people to know about
Staring at the Sun is that the songs were absolutely compelled by the
reality of the time. I couldn’t have written some other songs. I couldn’t
have written songs that felt a different way. As an artist, I’m called to
witness to a primal reality. It’s not like I live there, and someone else
doesn’t. It’s that the song comes from there, and takes us with it.
For me, performing involves facing down my own pride and fear of being
misunderstood and trying again. Every night. The giving of the gift.
Annie Gallup wrote me a beautiful note about “Staring at the Sun”:
“…it validates my loneliness as something other than a problem to


Dear Andrew…

This record is a miracle. I love this piece of your history and the way it gives a new context to how I understand you, the meaning of Waterbug and the evolution of Waterbug, and the reason we all belong to each other, and the specific way we belong to the world. And somehow it validates my loneliness as something other than a problem to solve. The cover is a miracle, the photos perfect, dignified, illuminating, Andrew, 1973, so that’s how it was, and so, how it is…

I’m recording this week and next, this stripped down melodic collection somehow feels like the highest risk I’ve ever taken, but it’s hard to quantify the risk. Maybe I’m not falling back on being clever this time. Or only a little. This one is a free fall.

love, Annie

by Andrew Calhoun, 1973
I was 15, my friend Peter was driving us to an open mike in Chicago. While I was getting into his orange VW, I thought, “we’re going to have an accident, but I’m not going to die.” So I watched the road, and as we sped down the Eisenhower Expressway, he turned to me to say something sardonic about the Doobie Brothers. I said, “Stop!” and he hit the brakes as the hood crumpled and my forehead cracked the windshield. The song is, oddly, about having died in the accident.

Sitting in the backseat, waiting for the joke
You told me you were leaving, I said, “Sorry, I don’t smoke.”
Sorry, I don’t smoke
Standing near a murder, waiting for a dream
You are my anger, and my anger is my pain
All these thoughts and days,
Die away and freeze
I will see you, I will see you
Through broken boundaries
I can see the gun
Sweating in the sun
I will still him, I will kill him
Before the end is come

Racing down the highway, waiting for the sound
Waiting for the exit, waiting for the ground
A purple glow of evil, spreading like a plague
Everything’s a burden, everything is vague
You think you have no clues
That you were meant to lose
And then the blood climbs through the mud
And settles in your shoes
Did you hear me scream?
Can you hear me call?
Could you love me, could you love me,
In any way at all?

All these thoughts and day
Die away and freeze
I will see you, I will see you
Through broken boundaries


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