In 1991, we created a short chapbook of lyrics from nine SWOON songs as a precursor to a compilation of music we never put together. Eight pages, nine songs, two folded pieces of paper. Thanks to SWOON super-fan, Brad Swenson, one paper copy survives. He photographed it and submitted his photos to our Facebook Page.
Here’s a link to download a PDF of the booklet titled Sleep Little Stash.
No, it’s not a book about getting high off your own stash. “Stash” was the name of one of the characters inhabiting the imaginary world of SWOON stories. The name is short for Anastasia, a Greek/Russian name that means “Resurrection.” The song Old Woman Willow (Sleep Little Stash) croons about the death of a fictional British girl named Anastasia who gets buried under a willow tree. (Think of Tolkein’s sinister man-eating Old Man Willow in The Fellowship of the Ring.) The tree absorbs her body through its roots to more-or-less resurrect her into leaves and branches via the cycle of physical death and rebirth while her soul takes flight passing out to sea over the chalky Dover cliffs before becoming one with the One who is I WILL BE AND I AM. Something like that. Perhaps we were getting little high.
We gave the chapbook away to fans and probably gave out copies along with other SWOON merchandise at our shows. The songs selected for inclusion shared some common connective tissue as half-told narratives featuring named characters. Most of them had been written on the heels of our exodus from the Christian music scene, and the bawdy lyrics are too eager to prove themselves scandalous. In those days, we were living together in a rented house just outside of the University of Minnesota’s Dinkytown area in Minneapolis. An enormous cast of compelling characters intersected our lives, coming and going at all hours, playing musical chairs with love and relationships. Their personalities and personal dramas inspired the fictional characters in the songs. The lyrics documented some of the swooning going on at the time, and they hint at some of the emotional wreckage left behind in the wake.
The broader theme followed the same path we first blazed in BEN SON BEATRICE/NEVERLAND by continuing to explore the world of innocence-lost, unrequited spiritual longings, frustrated eroticism, and angsty puzzlement over the question of how the soul fits so snuggly into the physical body. The chapbook contained lyrics from two songs recorded in the NEVERLAND sessions: Sweet Ally and Speak Soft. Three of the songs eventually went down on tape in the posthumous SPECTACULAR ILLUSIONS session: Old Woman Willow (Sleep, Little Stash), Seriously Sonny, and Dixon Berkman’s Tale. Four songs never made it to studio at all: The Tenth of May, Wishing Ring, When Things Go Well, and Happy Indeed (Sparrow). Recently, a cassette recording of a rehearsal showed up in the hands of a Cottonwood native named Tony Schwartz. It included a recording of Happy Indeed. (We played a live version in the 1989 Winona show. See the bootleg GLORY LIGHTS.)
One notable omission that should have been included with the collection is the ethereal Epiphany. It’s another of those half-told narratives about a named character undergoing some vague spiritual experience of unfulfilled longings consisting of deep sighs for intangible worlds. It’s the same type of romantic SWOON-worthy dish we we liked to serve. The lyrics to Epiphany don’t appear with the collection in Sleep Little Stash because, by 1991, our keyboard player was no longer part of the lineup. Songs that depended on her had to be cut.
What about the remaining three songs in the chapbook? It’s possible they might yet show up in Mr. Schwartz’s collection of vintage cassette tapes or elsewhere. In the meantime, it seems appropriate, on Easter Day 2023, to celebrate the Resurrection by resurrecting Stash. Here’s a Soundcloud link to the audio of Old Woman Willow (Sleep Little Stash) from the unreleased album SPECTACULAR ILLUSIONS.