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New Myths

by Clair Le Couteur

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I used to chase Hesperie all through her father's fields. I'd come across her bathing, combing her long silver hair. (I was in love, I was in love with her.) I used to chase Hesperie all through her father's fields, but now matter how swift my love, the fleeter was her fear. And then one day I saw her stop the chase and lay down in the grass. And in my pride... and in my pride I thought, 'At last.' There was a snake in the grass that reached out its teeth deep into her calf. I got there to find her dying; I spent some time trying to suck the poison out. It was the only kiss we shared, with her lying there and me trying not to look at her bared legs. After a while I got back up. And went to where the foam leaps up from the stones. I dropped like a stone. (But as I fell, I felt my arms turn into wings. As I fell, I felt my throat lengthening. And when I hit, I hit without a sound. And when I came up again, a fish was in my mouth.) Curse you, Tethys. Curse you, Tethys. I used to chase Hesperie all through her father's fields. And now I cast myself again again again into the sea; it always yields.
If we are the Greeks then you are the Romans You love the deserts like we loved the sea We lived for our secrets and you for exposing red faces, blue collars, and really white teeth American sirens, calling to the sailors cruising through the shallows of the San Francisco night American sirens, out there in the desert where they're unweaving the rainbow Back to red and blue and white. Tie me to the mast boys, I've just got to hear what they are singing about Tie me down to the mast boys, I've just got to hear the sirens singing to me Lash me tight to the mast To the mast Gotta hear the sounds Hear the sirens E-O-E-O-E-O-E-O... I lied when I told them; the curse, I was bleeding But they could have anything else that they liked I knew it was risky but I, ah I didn't know that the girls would reveal what lace couldn't hide Hold me down again, hit me to the floor Kick me in the ribs then sit me on the sofa; I'm ok You're not gay José This is not your fault; you're a football player I just can't believe this is a fucking man I can't cope with this I believe this is a female But if she isn't going to tell you maybe you should check for yourselves Oh hold me now Hold my head Under Well, oh hold me down Can't you see that I'm bleeding here? It can't be helped These things can't be helped; boys will be boys Will be boys Will be boys Hold her down again Drag her to the garage Hit her with a shovel, strangle her then put her in the truck Drive her out of town Put her in the ground in the desert Let's just say she had a long walk home American sirens Some say they're monsters, leading men astray to drown them in the night But I know that their curse is that they can't stop singing Attracting men like moths around a light Tie me to the mast, boys, I have to hear the sirens singing to me Lash me to the mast boys, I've just got to hear the sirens singing to me Lash me tight to the mast, boys, I've just got to understand Understand Understand Understand The truth will be buried deep, one way or the other You know the sea floor is just a desert under water And if we are the Greeks then you are the Romans; you love the deserts and we love the sea We lived for our future And you for exposing the bodies of sirens on network TV
Must've hit my head or something, I woke up on the ground. Naked and with blood under my nails. I'mon get out of this. I'mon get out of this. Picked up my feet, started walking with the trees as my guide; remembering that moss only grows on the North side (I think). I was ravening, so hungry when I found meat on the ground, I couldn't help myself. It looked just like steak. Picked it up, dusted it off, and tucked in with the blood dripping down my neck. I'mona get out of this, I'mona get myself together, I'mona find my way back to civilization. Civilization. And then, and then, I remembered some crazy dream; I was the king of the wolves, and the woods were bright with moonlight and with blood. And with the blood on my lips, so came these words, 'I won't end up eating people, I won't end up being one of them.' I'mon get out of this. I'mon get out of this. I'mon get out of this. As I walked on through the woods, I came upon a road finally and this car in a ditch and this girl, messed up pretty bad. She said, 'Oh my god, oh my god. Did that thing... did that thing come after you too? Where are your clothes?' And I said, 'Must've hit my head or something; I woke up on the ground, naked and with blood under my nails. But don't worry, we can get out of this, we can get out of this.' But as I came close, reached out my hand, 'Oh my god,' she said, 'what is wrong with your eyes? Yellow. Feral.' I reached out my hand but the pain was like a hive of bees. She had silver chains around her wrist. She had silver chains around her wrist. And I said. 'Are we not men? Or are we beasts pretending to be king? I'm not a man, I am a wolf, pretending to be a man.' I'mon get outta this the next time the moon sets me free and never look back, and never look back. I'mon get outta this skin. I'mon get outta this skin. I'mon get outta this skin. I'mon get outta this.
She left on a Tuesday. Took all her stuff. All of her LPs and shit, and some of mine. I stared at the wall for a while, and then I went out. Figured I'd find me a bar and have a good time. Didn't think I'd see her again. You know, I never did see her again. I heard she joined some group of freaks. Living over at Dennis Wilson's place. I met a man in the bar later that night. He told me straight, he said all that's kept him moving these last fifteen years is hate. He said, "It's like a furnace in my chest. It's like a fire on my tongue. And it burns a little brighter now with every wrong." He said, "I burn a little brighter. I nurture every hurt." He said, "Burn a little brighter son, trust me it works." He said, "They took my daughter from me with promises of love. I never gave her anything but that. Now they got her selling flowers on the street and living in a truck. Throwing salt over her shoulder just to keep the demons back. We never talk anymore. They won't even let me see her anymore." "But I burn a little brighter boy. I nurture every hurt. I burn," he burns a little brighter every time I see him after work. (Oh Black Lightning, don't blame yourself.) One night he said, "They took my daughter from me. And I hired Black Lightning to get her back. But during deprogramming she jumped out a window and broke her neck. And now it's me living in a truck. The wife blamed me and took me to court. Took the lot." "She won't see me anymore. We only communicate through lawyers now. But you know what, I burn, I still burn a little brighter. I nurture every hurt." He burns a little brighter every time I see him after work. (Oh Black Lightning, don't blame yourself.) He doesn't come round the bar much anymore. I don't see him round here much anymore. But you know what in the bar the other night, I saw on TV. This guy went into a Moonie church, gone stone crazy. Killed a bunch of people before he turned it on himself. And Reverend Moon's up there on CNN denying it's a cult. You don't see the Moon on TV much anymore. Said Reverend Moon's not on TV much anymore. But the screen burns a little brighter. Nurturing the hurt. Screen burns a little brighter, nurturing the hurt. It burn it burns. It burns it burns. Trust me, it works. (Oh Black Lightning, don't blame yourself.)
Actæon 04:06
In summertime a brave young fool called Actæon went hunting as usual, and he took his boys and he took his dogs after sows and boars and harts and stags and the occasional rabbit. And when their nets and spears were dripping blood, he said, 'OK boys, I've had enough; let's get some lunch.' Actæon was a curious type and he took his feet uphill, til he reached this grotto, and he poked his nose over the sill. And he saw... And he saw a crowd of nymphs so lovely, all stood round in a ring, mmn. A crowd of nymphs bathing something, all stood round in awe. A crowd of nymphs admiring... something in the center. It was Diana. Diana. And she said, 'Am I not beautiful, am I not wise? Come, little man, and feast your eyes! Well boy, what do you think?' And Actæon was like, 'N, n n n, n n, n n n, ne, ne, um.. never have I seen such... beauty?' And she was like, 'Nice try.' And what was once a fine young man was turned into a stag. White from his hooves to his horns, yes he was. And over the hill came the sound of his dogs and the horns: A-ooo, A-ooo! And the dogs were all like, 'Woof woof, woof woof, grrr. Woof woof, woof woof, a-ooo.' And as Actæon passed from life into dreams, and the sounds of the hounds turned into his screams, all his friends were like, 'Isn't it queer how sometimes the sound of a stag dying can sound just like a man?' 'Aaaaaaaaaooooooooaooaoaaoaoaaaaeeeeuuuurrggh.'
Dipped my finger in the language of the birds and tasted blood. I got my worm. Hiding in my hole underneath the road, with all the mud and flies, holding my spear. I could taste its iron in my mouth. Oh, the point went in so easily, with scarcely a jar. And its body hung above me like the night sky filled with stars. And the blood came pouring down, blueblack blood covering me from my toes up to my crown. I will, I will be king; now that I'm a rich man I can have anything. I will, I will be king; now that I'm a rich man I can have anything except peace. I went down to the river to bathe myself and spear, a clod between my shoulderblades, between my joys and fears. Walking down the highway, tarbaby to the dust, looking forward to the time they'd call me Sigurðr the Just... When my hand slipped on the haft of my spear. But the point, it could not cut me, to my wonder and my fear. I washed that black blood off me to find that underneath, oh my skin was hard as diamonds are, and just as tricky to release. But I will, I will be king; now that I'm a rich man I can have anything. I will, I will be king; now that I'm a rich man I can have anything, anything, anything except peace. Well, I went back to the carcass to have myself some lunch. Must've wasted near an hour trying to slice myself a haunch. So I reached into his mouth, I dug my diamond fingers in and I ripped the tongue right out. I cooked that fat baby on the hottest part of my fire. Gave it a prod with my thumb to see if it could do with being done a little more. But that hot sucker burnt my thumb! Quick as a salmon, I stuck it in my mouth, just as my eyes started to run... All the trees surrounding me, full of birds, began to whisper deep inside my ears. They said, 'Regin is a-lying there, a-laying plans. There ever is a wolf where I spy his ears.' I could taste the iron in my mouth. Oh the point went in so easy, with scarcely a jar, and Regin's body lay below me with two bloody open mouths. And I will, I will be king. But not for long enough to enjoy anything. I will, I will be king. Rich in enemies and poor in everything, in everything else.
I didn't choose to look this way. These lines, hair this grey. Oh, but anyway, these things I think of as mine. I asked a man to build for me a playpen for my son. In the shape of a labyrinth. And then, when it was done, I built for him an ivory tower, with windows around for every hour, so the sun might shine with all his power on Dædalus and his son. Did Dædalus mount an albatross when he fathered Icarus? I tried to keep the beast of loss locked from that cunning man. (My offspring had his thread cut short by Theseus, his tail caught and knotted tight around his horns, hair matted into bloody points. The red threads that Ariadne gave to spur him must've come from more cunning hands than hers. In fact, all possible paths converge; I'm sure Dædalus was that man.) Perhaps he made the wooden cow my wife locked herself in somehow. Maybe we are all even now entangled in his plans. I know he made three labyrinths; a wooden one to reckon with, the one where my poor horned scion lived, and one inside my crown. I walk the wooden walls alone, and remember with every stone the prisons we make of our homes, the labyrinths of lives. I didn't choose to end this way; these lines, the things I say, these are just a part I play until the music dies.


New Myths is a set of seven songs of transformation, written by Clair over a twelve year period and recorded at SYPE Studios, Prague. This project was the first time Clair and Carli worked together.


released December 12, 2017

Vocals, Piano, Songwriting – Clair Le Couteur

Percussion – Carli Jefferson
Siren (American Sirens) – Jakub Šimandl
Mandolin (Cormorant Song) – Mikey Maritato
Electric Guitar (Black Lightning) – Tomáš Smejkal
Bass (Black Lightning) – Nick Jennings
Viola (Three Labyrinths) – Jorge Boehringer

Produced by Justin Steinmetz, Tomas Patlich and Clair Le Couteur
Recording Engineer – Tomas Patlich
Editing, Mastering – Jakub Šimandl
Recorded at SYPE Studios, Prague


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Broken folk experiments by Clair Le Couteur (vocals, drones) and Carli Jefferson (vocals, percussion). MOJO Magazine Top Ten Folk Albums of 2019: This Is Broken Folk. Number 2 2021: The Missing Star

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