Now Only

by Mount Eerie

supported by
Valquerie Morningstar
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Valquerie Morningstar I can feel your pain, your loss, real emotion in your music. Your releases before this tragedy don't have this kind of genuine soul to them... Most music rarely does. This is unique. This is an oddity. This is special. I'm listening to an actual piece of your soul.
This empathy I feel, for a loss that isn't my own: feels so fucking genuine. Since hearing this, I've began putting all of my energy into my own relationship. Appreciation for someone is strongest when they're gone. Thank you for letting me feel your emotions, akin to a personal loss I never had.
I've began cherishing what I have now, forging the life we always talked about but kept putting off.
Thank you for this.
Terrill Rose
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Terrill Rose One must buy this album; a perfect cousin to 'A Crow Looked At Me'. Favorite track: Distortion.
Yoram Kaplan
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Yoram Kaplan I found this album very Empathic..
more... more...
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between March 14th and October 9th, 2017
at home in the same room

box 1561
Anacortes, Wash.
U.S.A. 98221


Now Only, written shortly following the release of A Crow Looked At Me and the first live performances of those songs, is a deeper exploration of that style of candid, undisguised lyrical writing. It portrays Elverum’s continuing immersion in the strange reality of Geneviève’s death, chronicling the evolution of his relationship to her and her memory, and of the effect the artistic exploration of his grief has had on his own life. The scope of Now Only encompasses not only hospitals and deathbeds, but also a music festival, childhood memories of conversations with Elverum’s mother, profound paintings and affecting artworks he encounters, a documentary about Jack Kerouac, and most significantly, memories of his life with Geneviève. These moments and thoughts resonate with each other, creating a more complex and nuanced picture of mourning and healing. The power of these songs comes not from the small, sharp moments of cutting phrases or shocks, but the echoes that weave the songs together, the way a life is woven.

The music, fully realized by Elverum alone at home, is fleshed out texturally and seems to react to the words in real time. In a moment of confusion, dissonance abruptly makes itself known; in a moment of clarity, gentle piano arises. On the title track, the blunt declaration of “people get cancer and die” is subverted by a melody that can only be described as pop. As Elverum reinvents his lyrical process, he is also refining his musical vocabulary.

Elverum’s life during the period he wrote Now Only was defined by the duality of existing with the praise and attention garnered by A Crow Looked At Me and the difficult reality of maintaining a house with a small child by himself, as well as working to preserve Geneviève’s artistic legacy. Consumed with the day to day of raising his daughter, Elverum felt his musical self was so distant that it seemed fictional. Stepping into the role of Phil Elverum of Mount Eerie held the promise of positive empathy and praise, but also the difficulty of inhabiting the intense grief that produced the music. These moments, both public and domestic, are chronicled in these songs. They are songs of remembrance, and songs about the idea of remembrance, about living on the cusp of the past and present and reluctantly witnessing a beloved person’s history take shape. Time continues.


released March 16, 2018


all rights reserved


Track Name: Tintin In Tibet

I sing to you.
I sing to you Geneviève.
I sing to you.
You don’t exist.
I sing to you though.

When I address you
who am I talking to?
Standing in the front yard like an open wound
repeating “I love you”
to who?

I recorded all these songs about the echoes in our house now
and then walked out the door to play them on a stage
but I sing to you.

I picture you
when we first met you were twenty two.
I drove my truck onto the ferry to Victoria in the morning
where we met and talked forever in your apartment. Evening falling,
so I brought my blankets in and slept on the floor right next to your bed.
In the morning, barely awake, I saw you standing right above me
peeling and orange and looking hungry.
“Do you want some?” you asked me
and then just avalanched into me with pieces of orange
and weight and kissing
and certainty.
I remember you a few days later in Tofino where we’d driven
to play a show you set up for us at a surf shop to no one
then we slept in the back of my truck and got woken up by the cops
and so went down to the fishing boat docks to ask whoever for a ride
across the water to Meares Island to just get left there for the day.
And we did and brought some food to eat and went through the big trees
abandoned and in love, totally insane, apart from the rest of the world.
We had finally found each other in the universe.
Lying on the rocks waiting for the boat to come pick us up
I read the one book we had with us aloud with my head on your lap,
sinking into you. Tintin In Tibet in French.
We thought of devotion and snow and distant longing
and the Himalayan air, high and cold with a bell ringing out.

Right before you died thirteen years later in our house I remember
through your gasping for oxygen you explained that you were thinking
about that high cold air wrapping the globe.
Singing above the mountains of the gods.
And I do picture you there: molecules dancing.

But I’d rather you were in the house watching the unfolding
everyday life of this good daughter we made
instead of being scattered by the wind for no reason
so I sing to you.
Track Name: Distortion

But I don’t believe in ghosts or anything.
I know that you are gone and that I’m carrying some version of you around,
some untrustworthy old description in my memories.
That must be your ghost taking form,
created every moment by me dreaming you so.
Is it my job now to hold whatever’s left of you for all time?
and to reenact you for our daughter’s life?

I do remember
when I was a kid and realized that life ends and is just over,
that a point comes where we no longer get to say or do anything,
and then what? I guess just forgotten.
I said to my mom that I hoped to do something important with my life.
Not be famous, but just remembered a little more,
to echo beyond my actual end.
My mom laughed at this kid trying to wriggle his way out of mortality,
of the inescapable final feral scream.
But I held that hope and grew up wondering what dying means.
Unsatisfied, ambitious and squirming.

The first dead body I ever saw in real life was my great-grandfather’s,
embalmed in a casket in Everett in a room by the freeway
where they talked me into reading a thing from the bible
about walking through a valley in the shadow of death
but I didn’t understand the words.
I thought of actually walking through a valley and a shadow
with a backpack and a tent.
But that dead body next to me spoke clear and metaphor-free.

In December 2001,
after having spent the summer and fall traveling mostly alone around
the country that was spiraling into war and mania, little flags were everywhere,
I was living on the periphery as a twenty three year old
wrapped up in doing what I wanted and it was music and painting on newsprint
sleeping in yards without asking permission and eating all the fruit from the tree like Tarzan or Walt Whitman, voracious, devouring life, singing my song,
but that December I was shaken by a pregnancy scare
from someone who I’d been with for only one night
many states away, who I hadn’t planned to keep knowing,
a young and embarrassing over-confident animal night.
The terror of the idea of fatherhood at twenty three destroyed my foundation
and left me freaked out and wandering around,
mourning the independence and solitude that defined me then.
Though my life is a galaxy of subtleties,
my complex intentions and aspirations do not matter at all
in the face of the crushing flow of actual time.
I saw my ancestors as sad and misunderstood
in the same way that my descendants will squint back through a fog
trying to see some polluted version of all I meant to be in life,
their recollections pruned by the accidents of time,
what got thrown away and what gets talked about at night.
But she had her period eventually and I went back to being twenty three.

Eleven years later I was traveling alone again
on an airplane from New Zealand to Perth, Western Australia.
Very alone, so far away from you and the home that we had made.
I watched a movie on the plane about Jack Kerouac,
a documentary going deeper than the usual congratulations.
They interviewed his daughter, Jan Kerouac, and she tore through the history.
She told about this deadbeat drinking, watching Three Stooges on TV,
not acknowledging his paternity, abandoning the child,
taking cowardly refuge in his self-mythology.
When she spoke I heard your voice telling me about the adults who had
abandoned you as a sweet kid and left you to grow precariously,
and when she spoke I looked in her face and saw you looking back at me.
On a tiny airplane seat screen at the bottom of the world
I saw a French-Canadian resemblance
and I heard suffering echoing.
A lineage of bad parents and strong daughters withstanding.
She had black hair and freckles and pale skin just like you
and she told the hard truth and slayed the gods just like you.
I saw the cracks in the facade of posterity.
I missed you so I went home.

The second dead body I ever saw was you, Geneviève,
when I watched you turn from alive to dead right here in our house.
I looked around the room and asked “Are you here?”
and you weren’t, and you are not here. I sing to you though.
I keep you breathing through my lungs
in a constant uncomfortable stream of memories trailing out
until I am dead too
and then eventually all the people who remember me will also die
containing what it was like to stand in the same air with me
and breathe and wonder why

and then distortion
and then the silence of space,
the Night Palace,
the ocean blurring,
but in my tears right now
light gleams.
Track Name: Now Only

I remember looking around the hospital waiting room full of people
all absorbed in their own personal catastrophes,
all reading books like Being Mortal,
all with the look in their eye.
And I remember still feeling like “No. No one can understand.”
“No. My devastation is unique.”

But people get cancer and die.
People get hit by trucks and die.
People just living their lives get erased for no reason
with the rest of us just watching from the side
and some people have to survive
and find a way to feel lucky to still be alive,
to sleep through the night.

I wrote down all the details of how my house fell apart,
how the person I love got killed by a bad disease out of nowhere for no reason,
and me living in the blast zone with our daughter and etc.
I made these songs and then
the next thing I knew I was standing in the dirt under the desert sky at night
outside Phoenix at a music festival that had paid to fly me in
to sing these death songs to a bunch of young people on drugs.
Standing in the dust next to an idling bus with Skrillex inside,
the sound of subwoofers in the distance. I had stayed up till three
talking to Weyes Blood and Father John Misty about songwriting
in the backstage bungalows,
eating fruit and jumping on the bed like lost children exploding across the earth
in a self-indulgent all-consuming wreck of ideas that blot out the stars.
To be still alive felt so absurd.

People get cancer and die.
People get hit by trucks and die.
People just living their lives get erased for no reason
with the rest of us averting our eyes.

When I was leaning on Skrillex’s tour bus
waiting for the hotel shuttle in the middle of the night
I barely knew who I was.
I looked up and saw Orion wielding a club and a shield
and there you were again,
dead wife.

As my grief becomes calcified, frozen in stories,
and in these songs I keep singing, numbing it down,
the unsingable real memory of you
and the feral eruptions of sobbing,
these waves hit less frequently.
They thin and then they are gone.
You are gone
then your echo is gone
then the crying is gone
and what is left but this merchandise?

This is what my life feels like now:
like I got abruptly dropped off on the side of the road
in the middle of a long horrible ride in a hot van
that was too full of confident chattering dudes.

The sound of tires receding.
Taking in the night air, I say
“now only”.
Track Name: Earth

I don’t want to live with this feeling any longer than I have to
but also I don’t want you to be gone
so I talk about you all the time
including the last day that you were alive
and I hang your pictures around the house
for me to surprise myself with and cry.
who used to know us
seems concerned
but if they knew that when you enter my mind I am full of the love
that illuminated our house for all those years
and made this dancing child who tears through the days
with a brilliance you would have deepened
and sang along with
but you’re sleeping
out in the yard now.
What am I saying? No one is sleeping.
You don’t even have a dead body anymore.
It was taken away.
I went and wrote a check and got a cardboard box
full of your ashes
and a little plastic bag with your necklace
and I drove back home truly alone.

I guess I didn’t bury it deeply enough
when I poured out your ashes beneath the three witch hazels
that you planted in the yard a few years ago
in a triangle for us
where me and the kid were rolling in the grass the other day
and I saw actual chunks of your bones,
bleached and weathered,
you’re still out there
in the spring upheaving,
coming out of the ground, into air.
Is that exact fragment your finger that once caressed me?
Not that long ago,
I still can feel it.
Is that other shard a piece of your skull that once contained the wild brain
that used to overflow with loving?
Undiscovered and gone.
Now just shrapnel remains.

Another place I poured your ashes out was on a chair on top of a mountain
pointed at the sunset.
I went back there last week after a year has passed and noticed that
the chunks of your bones that haven’t been blown away
are indistinguishable from the other pieces of animal bones
brought there by coyotes, vultures, and gods.
Against my will I felt a little bit of solace creeping in
while I layed there on the moss.
Compost and memory,
there’s nothing else.

(I can hear Wolves In The Throne Room singing
“I Will Lay Down My Bones Among The Rocks And Roots”)

At night I sit and picture myself curled up beneath ten feet of water
at the bottom of the lake.
I imagine trout bumping against me in the low diminished light,
holding my breath, trying to be a boulder
to join you
in re-mingling
with the background
of churned muck coalescing in the dark,
to get ground back down to matter only.
Eternal and dumb,
becoming not-a-thing,
Track Name: Two Paintings By Nikolai Astrup

I know no one now.
Now I say “you”.
Now after the ground has opened up, now after you died
I wonder what could beacon me forward into the rest of life.
I can glimpse occasional moments
gleaming like bonfires burning from across the fjord.

In a painting from around 1915 called Midsummer Eve Bonfire by Nikolai Astrup
that shines on my computer screen in 2017 in the awful July night,
the house is finally quiet and still with the child asleep upstairs
so I sit and notice the painting of bonfires on the hillside and
hanging smoke
in the valleys wrapping back up through the fjord at dusk,
hovering like scarves of mist draped along the ridges
above couples dancing in the green twilight around fires,
and in the water below the reflections of other fires from other parties
illuminates the depths and glitters
shining and alone.
Everyone is dancing and there’s music and a man climbs up the hill
pulling a juniper bough to throw into the fire
to make some sparks rise up to join the stars.
These people in the painting believed in magic and earth
and they all knew loss, and they all came to the fire.
I saw myself
in this one young woman in the foreground with a look of desolation
and a body that looked pregnant as she leaned against the moss covered rocks
off to the side, apart from all the people celebrating Midsummer.
I knew her person was gone just like me.
And, just like me, she looked across at the fires from far away
and wanted something in their light to say
“Live your life,
and if you don’t the ground is definitely ready at any moment to open up again
to swallow you back in, to digest you back into something useful for somebody.
Meanwhile above all these Norwegians dancing in the twilight
the permanent white snow gleamed.
(You used to call me “neige éternelle”.)
The man who painted this girl’s big black eyes gazing,
drawing the fire into herself, standing alone,
Nikolai Astrup, he also died young, at forty seven,
right after finishing building his studio at home where he probably intended
to keep on painting his resonant life into old age
but sometimes people get killed before they get to finish
all the things they were going to do.

That’s why I’m not waiting around anymore.
That’s why I tell you that I love you.
Does it even matter what we leave behind?
I’m flying on an airplane over the Grand Canyon imagining
strangers going through the wreckage of this flight if it were to crash.
Would anyone notice or care? Gathering up my stuff from the desert below,
would they investigate the last song I was listening to?
Would they go through my phone and see the last picture I ever took
was of our sleeping daughter early this morning, getting ready to go,
I was struck by her face, sweet in the blue light of our dim room.
Would they follow the thread back and find her there?
I snap back out of the plane crash fantasy, still alive,
and I know that’s not how it would go.
I know the actual mess that death leaves behind
just gets bulldozed in a panic by the living,
pushed over the waterfall,
because that’s me now:
holding all your things, resisting the inevitable
flooding of the archives, the scraps distributed by wind,
a life’s work just left out in the rain.
But I’m doing what I can to reassemble a poor substitute version of you
made of the fragments and drawings that you left behind.
I go through your diaries and notebooks at night.
I’m still cradling you in me.

There’s another Nikolai Astrup painting from 1920 called Foxgloves
that hangs on the fridge
and I look at it every morning and every night before bed.
Some trees have been cut down next to a stream
flowing through a birch grove in late spring
and two girls that look like you gather berries in baskets,
hunched over like young animals grazing
with their red dresses against the white birch tree trunks,
interweaving, beneath the clattering leaves.
The two stumps in the foreground remind me that everything is fleeting.
(As if reminding is what I need.)
But then the foxgloves grow.
I read they’re the first flowers that return to disturbed ground
like where logging took place,
or where someone like me rolled around wailing in a clearing.

Now I don’t wonder anymore
if it’s significant that all these foxgloves spring up
on the place where I’m about to build our house
and go to live and let you fade in the night air,
surviving with what dust is left of you here.
Now you will recede into the paintings.
Track Name: Crow pt. 2
CROW pt. 2

A crow that’s being dreamed by a child who’s being carried through the forest
sleeping, wondering in her twilight half awareness where her mother went.
I know that you died.
But in this child’s crow dream you survive
beneath layers of magical symbolic wild animals inhabiting
the edges of our fogged over consciousnesses grasping
for something to hold, something old
like a name cut into a stone
or a bird that will make eye contact.
That’s where you live now,
or at least that’s where I hold you.
We’re still here without you.
Sleeping and the sun’s coming up.
In the ruins of your household we wake up again,
coming back into THIS.
Every day that comes, the echo of you living here gets quieter,
obscured by the loud wind of us now, wailing and moaning for you
but also living, talking about school, making food,
just surviving, and still containing love, waking up again.
The baby that you knew is now a kid
and when she looks at me with your eyes the shape of almonds
I am stirred inside and reemerge.
I go downstairs and turn on CBC and make some coffee and boil two eggs,
make two pieces of bread into toast, open a window,
give the child some clothes and get us sitting at the table
where your chair still sits across from me, watching.
I stand to put on music.
Our daughter sees and asks for mama’s record.
She’s staring at the speaker with a look of recognition,
putting it together that that’s you singing.
I’m sobbing and eating eggs again.
You’re a quiet echo on loud wind.
But when I’m trying to I see you everywhere,
in plants and birds, in our daughter,
in the sun going down and coming up,
in whatever,
in the myths that used to get told around the fire
where a seal’s head pokes up through from underwater
crossing a threshold between two worlds, yours and mine.
We were skeletally intertwined once
but now I notice ravens instead.
I don’t see you anywhere.

in the branches
I will go out beneath
and run my fingers through the air
touching your last breath,
reaching through to the world of the gone
with my hand empty.

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