Liz + the Baguettes – The Age and the Ache
There is one thing I can say for certain: the older a person gets, the lonelier he becomes. In a sense our lives are nothing more than a series of stages to help us get used to loneliness… If you remember me, then I don’t care if everyone else forgets. — Haruki Murakami, A Walk to Kobe and Kafka on the Shore
I spent the first thirty years of my life trying to be older than I was, and the next thirty years failing in a quest to be younger. Having survived multiple mid-life crises, the pennies to pay the ferryman have not been placed on my eyes and I have become an old man, standing on his front porch, shaking a rake at his Twitter feed and yelling ‘Get offa my lawn!’ I am accompanied in this endeavor, happily, by three cats and an awesome wife who lies and tells me that I look good for my age. The only ache I experience is the silence that I hear when I ask myself What if?
In ‘The Age and the Ache,’ Liz + the Baguettes present a person for whom the passage of time brings heartache. At first glance, the words describe the anciently-honored effort to slow the aging process by meeting with a lover, as if the hand one grasps is, not the companion’s, but the hand of a clock. A second reading summons the specter of a child making the weekly, obligatory pilgrimage to visit a parent confined to an assisted living facility.
And I won’t watch the clock
I swear I won’t check my phone…
I can take everything about getting old
Except the age and the ache
The interpretation is age-dependent, as Robert Pogue Harrison said of the sky: ‘When I was seven it was my body’s covenant with the cosmos; by twenty it became the face of an abstraction; today it’s the dome of a house I know I will not inhabit much longer; shortly it will be the answer to what today still remains a question.’
‘The Age and the Ache’ is a beautiful country song, the kind of real country music sung by real people who know the human condition. The vocalist has, in the words of Wild Daydream’s Simeon Williams, ‘a similar voice to Aimee Mann but the vocal delivery of Matt Berninger from The National.’ Drums whisper in the background, their skins no longer tight, and a slide guitar makes a melancholy meander down the fretboard.
‘The Age and the Ache’ is from Liz + the Baguettes’ new eleven-song album, Highway Gothic. As we learn on the album’s Bandcamp page, ‘Highway Gothic is the name of the typeface used on US road signs. It seemed right for an album that begins in the suburbs and ends in the Badlands.’ Based in Chicago, the group comprises Liz Bagby (vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards), Charlie Crane (lead and slide guitar, accordion, percussion, keyboards), and Thomas Zeitner (bass). They self-describe as ‘Indie rock + alt-country + post-punk = post-country.’ Liz and Charlie are members of The Unswept, whose Byrdsian rocker ‘You Ain’t on My Mind’ was featured here earlier this year.
To read more about Liz + the Baguettes, including booking information, visit their website. Be sure to follow Liz + the Baguettes on Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify. And for pictures of cats and food, follow Liz on Instagram.