From This Might Be A Wiki

Yeah, so I'm a fervent fan with the unfortunate problem that I haven't really been to any shows. As far as wiki contribution, I'll probably be seen doing some cleanup, as I'm something like a lazy perfectionist. Once in a while when I see some oversight, I'll add it, but you probably won't see me add too many new things. I'm always second to find out. My favorite album is John Henry and (I) can't stand frontrunners who only know of Flood. Geez.

Messages to Kfarnstein[edit]

Welcome to the wiki. You're in luck: there is much cleanup to be done here. Edit away! --SR
Good job on the Spy interpretation. --SR
Oof, you shouldn't have said you were a perfectionist! Where's the subject in the sentence "My favorite album is John Henry and can't stand frontrunners who only know of Flood"? Shouldn't there be an I? Sorry to be a stickler -- maybe I've spent too much time reading Eats, Shoots and Leaves. Anyway, good to see you on the wiki. John Henry is definitely underrated. Dap.
Actually, I think the sentence is kind of funny just as is. Taken literally, it's saying "My favorite album is John Henry, and my favorite album can't stand frontrunners etc." To think, John Henry hates Flood fans. I don't blame it, either. I'd have a chip on my shoulder too if I were that underappreciated. - CC
Here's my two cents that turned into twenty dollars. Kfarnstein, I definitely think you're onto something with your reading of The Spine as an album-length narrative, albeit one fractured and injected with a healthy dose of abstractions (as is the Giant forte). Here's how I interpreted it, and my reading runs parallel to yours in a lot of places: Aspiring filmmaker (1) lets his day job and relationship slide (2, 3) while he plunges himself into his creative endeavor. As his life steadily crumbles, he grows isolated and self-absorbed, his heart hardening (4); he starts picking fights (5), drinking cheap wine (6), acting paranoid (7) and complaining aimlessly (8) -- in short, living the classic life of the artist, except without the talent. His girl leaves for a while to get her own head together (9) and he casts around, partying pretty much indiscriminately, yukking it up in restaurants (10), over poker games (12), and with a girl he knows who's apparently quite a dancer (13). His special lady drops him (14, and quite wisely), and even his film has dried up -- he's out of money, work, and ideas (15). All he can do is wander around and kick himself, endlessly going over his mistakes and what he's lost (16).
You could take this all very literally, or you could look at it as some kind of allegory, a cautionary fable directed at any aspiring writer or musician or artist of any kind. The moral would be, Don't forget what's important in your life. The connections you make with people, the honest work you do to make the world better, the love you bring and take away -- these things are the solid, true threads keeping a healthy person together, the spine holding up any life worth living. This is the lesson John and John, now both family men, have to impart after twenty-plus years of making music.
Of course this interpretation could be miles and miles off the mark, but the remarkable consistency of the narrative voices over sixteen songs leads me to suspect there is some larger framework here. (Can't you just see the experimental filmmaker scratching his head, wondering why on Earth his girlfriend would call herself an orangutan? Is it coincidence that the excited, babbling inspiration on track one should dry up so completely by track 15? What about the basically-unprecedented-on-a-TMBG-album recurrence of certain phrases -- for example, "talk me down/talk you down" in Memo/Raincoat? And how else do you explain the two "spine" mini-songs?) I find that I enjoy The Spine a lot more when I look at each song as a chapter in a story. And if that story is both crushingly depressing and ridiculously hummable, well, isn't that just TMBG? -- Octofish