The Francine Odysseys – Past Present

by | Apr 1, 2021 | Music, Song of the Day

There is no invisible river of time. But there are things that you could call instants of time, or ‘Nows’… There are many such Nows, all different from each other. That’s my ontology of the universe — there are Nows, nothing more, nothing less…. The rules of the scheme make it quite impossible to say how many, if any, of your memories are real. — Julian Barbour

All the love that you missed, all the people that you can’t recall, do they really exist at all? — Lowell George

In The End of Time, Julian Barbour, a theoretical physicist — a physicist who exists only in theory — conjures a universe, christened Platonia, that comprises a mist of infinitely-numbered Nows. Each Now contains the complete universe, including ‘memories’ of non-existent past actions and dreams of a future that will never exist because there is no future, only Now. Which means that I never suffered the sordid tragedy of Middle School, but only suffer — perversely — in the Now because the Gods of Platonia implanted a false memory of the depravity within my brain.

With ‘Past Present,’ the Francine Odysseys recall a place or person that has no power because it is non-existent within the Now. The memory that beckons you to wakefulness at 2:30AM and taunts you as you attempt re-sleep on, alternately, your left and right sides — an endeavor unimproved by multiple revolutions of the pillow — never happened. I keep telling myself that, anyway.

We’re stuck in the in between
Not quite the past or present
The present here is frozen in time
And it’s hard to see the future

There’s no place for me here
I’m just the past to you now
There was never a future for me
In your universe anyhow

‘Past Present’ is wonderfully unapologetic pop — the best kind — with the sense of deja vu a song achieves when the listener’s replay button is repeatedly pressed. Things I love about this song: the vibraphone that pings a signal from its own universe, the tiny bit of country that creeps into the guitar solo, and the background vocals, multiple voices within the same Now.

Based in LA (which I jauntily abbreviate because I’m compensating for a Middle School-induced trauma), the Francine Odysseys are Gretchen DeVault (vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards) and Ian Patrick (vocals, lead guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, drums, percussion). They self-describe as a duo of grown-up indie kids making their world a little more inhabitable through wistful, miniature pop. ‘Past Present’ appears on their new four-song EP, My Favorite Distraction.

The music of the Francine Odysseys is available on Bandcamp, Spotify, and Apple Music. And be sure to follow the Francine Odysseys on Facebook and Instagram.

Charles Norman is a writer and historian. Email: Or follow on Instagram and Facebook.

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