– every morning I wake up and fill my cup and listen bitterly, to stories of me

Raymond Carver is to some writers as Johnny Cash was to Nick Cave or Nick Cave was to Johnny Cash; probably as Johnny Cash was to everyone.

For the download below, go to the “E” section and download the zip, either as an open file or a saved file. I don’t know how to get it directly onto here.

Everything’s Turning To White

Late on a Friday my husband went up to the mountains with three friends
They took provisions and bottles of bourbon to last them all through the weekend
One hundred miles they drove just to fish in a stream
And there’s so much water so close to home
When they arrived it was cold and dark; they set up their camp quickly
Warmed up with whisky they walked to the river where the water flowed past darkly
In the moonlight they saw the body of a young girl floating face down
And there’s so much water so close to home
When he hold me now I’m pretending
I feel like I’m frozen inside
And behind my eyes, my daily disguise
Everything’s turning to white
It was too hard to tell how long she’d been dead, the river was that close to freezing
But one thing for sure, the girl hadn’t died very well to judge from the bruising
They stood there above her all thinking the same thoughts at the same time
There’s so much water so close to home

They carried her downstream from their fishing; between two rocks they gently wedged her
After all they’d come so far, it was late
And the girl would keep; she was going nowhere
They stayed up there fishing for two days
They reported it on Sunday when they came back down
There’s so much water so close to home
When he holds me now I’m pretending
I feel like I’m frozen inside
And behind my eyes, my daily disguise
Everything’s turning to white
The newspapers said that the girl had been strangled to death and also molested
On the day of the funeral the radio reported that a young man had been arrested
I went to the service a stranger; I drove past the lake out of town
There’s so much water so close to home
When he holds me now I’m pretending
I feel like I’m frozen inside
And behind my eyes, my daily disguise
Everything’s turning to white

I read this short story a long time ago when I was a lot more cut off from myself than I am now. I think it is from  What We Talk About When We Talk About Love  I didn’t get it at the time. I couldn’t see why the guys had done anything so bad, thinking I would lean more towards the pragmatic… but on reflection, and with the fact that the woman did not die well, and with the fact it was a woman who died, and her body was naked, ultimately wedged between two rocks, maybe that lack of understanding, or complete and utter disregard between the sexes, that is sometimes not so apparent and at other times all too evident, is what the song and story talk about.

I read in Sex on the Brain, by Deborah Blum (a fascinating read)  that among chimpanzees and orangutans, who are probably the closest to us biologically, and who are male dominated, that the female ape can ‘read’ both other female apes and the male ape, being able to sense the nuances of the situation, and I guess the wants, or maybe only the needs, of the other. Gorillas rape, by the way, I’m not sure about the other apes. We’re pretty close to the gorilla, too, but closest to the chimpanzee. Chimpanzees and Orangutans tend to be very insistent, I think (no real expert and I cannot find my book). As an aside, it is interesting that there are fewer pregnancies conceived by rape among gorillas, though. It is hypothesised that the male ape can only read fellow male apes, because they are the ones they have to fear. I don’t know that female apes have to fear female apes, but they spend a lot of time with them.

The Rhesus Macaques, on the other hand, have quite the relationship with the male often taking up the majority of childcare, and with macaque partners being more devoted to one another than to their offspring. Well, you know, nature/nurture, evolution and so on. They tend to have a matriarchal society, I guess, similar to the Bonobos, though the macaques are not as renowned for their mad sex drive (both sexes) as the bonobo.

Rhesus Macaques

Rhesus Macaques

Maybe the song and story reflects some of ignorance, is that the word? Some of that inability, not even thinking about, no way to even stretch the  imagination that far, about the other. There are many, many empathetic men out there. I know them. There are also some very cold and uncaring females. The way society is generally set up, and has historically been set up, amongst we humans though, seems to be in such a way that one sex is recognised and the role of the other sex is secondary; their recognition inconsequential, invalidated, except to define the other, their role even to themselves insiginificant, as de Beauvoir  wrote, and many before her and since. Unrecorded stories whispered through daisy-links of quiet subservision and sighs, maybe lies.

My friend’s mother’s family, and many women I know, have always said that to get things achieved in their families they need to present an idea as if it is their husbands’ idea and then praise him to the high heavens for having thought of it. This concept, both of the females’  and the males’ thought processes upsets me. I like to think that having been one half of the other sex at some point that we should be able to understand each other at some level which isn’t dealing solely with survival, whether that survival has traditionally been achieved by dominant or submissive methods. I think my friend’s mother’s family’s behaviour is indicative of buying into assumed behaviour, but this way of thinking is also prevalent in many walks of life, and necessary in societies which are particularly patriarchal. Interestingly enough, the types of birds which share child-rearing duties and which are, for the most part, monogamous have similar levels of testosterone regardless of sex. This is definitely not the case in humans.

Anyway, back to Raymond Carver, or should I put it in a separate post? It might be an idea. Naah, I’ll keep it all up here, and hope that a few wander through to the end.

Raymond Carver stories stay with you. I think that musicians do a better job than movies, though I only ever saw Robert Altman’s Short Cuts, but certain scenes from that movie stay in my mind, too. He has one of my all time favourite poems, too, or fragments. I posted about it here.

Late Fragment

And did you get what

you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself

beloved on the earth.


A friend of mine gave up reading cards (tarot) because every person who rang her (she was part of a group who provided a phone service) was a Raymond Carver character, wondering if her boyfriend would change this time after coming out of jail, if he’d stop beating her up.  At five dollars an hour. They had no-one to talk to. She hated Raymond Carver, this friend, but I think she might have misunderstood him, but that’s my opinion placed on hers.

There is a story the same friend tells of her aunt who had an open relationship with a married man. He was invited to all of my friend’s family events and he loved my friend’s aunt deeply. He always said that she would leave him, ultimately, and she did. He had been married three times, and he stayed with his at-the-time current wife. He lived with my friend’s aunt for a short time. However, his legal wife’s dog fell into the pool, a small toy poodle or something similar, and drowned. He shifted back in with her. That was the impetus. He had left another wife for her.

There was some form of love or care there, it can’t be denied, between the lover and the wife. Obviously the emotions had been strong enough for a 3rd marriage to ensue.  My friend’s aunt did ultimately leave him; not at the time that he returned to his wife, but many years later. She started a long distance relationship with another guy who would be in her life but not on a daily basis. Her former lover, partner, beloved, call him what you will, and they were together for a long time, at least eight years, well his wife died at some point. I think she was sickly. So again, that is the way the world turns. My friend used to say: imagine throwing away all that love. I’m not sure if I agree with her point of view. She witnessed the love, obviously, but was the tie between the first wife (or wife number three) something more than obligation?  The story is a Raymond Carver story though, or at least the poodle in the pool is.


I remember one story of his from the same book as referenced above, I think. A guy is having a garage sale, everything piled out in the driveway of his house. I imagine the house as pretty suburban, sliding towards the lower end of the scale, brick or weatherboard, grass yellowed, but short. A girl and her boyfriend are walking by. It’s evening. The guy holding the sale puts a record on the turntable of a console he has dragged outside, maybe some hand written dollar sign attached to it, and the couple dance, or do the girl and the guy holding the sale? I should look it up. When I read it, it didn’t mean much. Now, almost ten years later, the image is still in my mind like stills and sequences from “Down By Law”, funnily enough.

It is a Perth suburban scene that echoes, of course, but American and Australian suburban scenes are, in many ways, similar.

Paul Kelly has his ‘S’ songs up for download at the moment. His homepage has two of my all time favourite songs. Standing on the Street of Early Sorrows. In a former post, I think I wrote that I always thought it was Urban Sorrows, which kind of ties into this. The original doesn’t have the harp, which I think is distracting, but it’s still good. The downloads individually like this will only be up for a month, then if you go to Robin Bell Books you should be able to get them along with the others as a zip download.

Download this MP3 – (Right Click)

Standing on the Street of Early Sorrows

Download this MP3 – (Right Click)
Stories of Me.

The other song I love is Stories of Me (the second link above). Who could not love the line: “I’m not drinking on the sly, I’m the star attraction“? Enjoy.

This and Post are my favourite Paul Kelly albums

This and Post are my favourite Paul Kelly albums

Explore posts in the same categories: music, stories

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