| THE CAUTIONARY TALES
OF MARK OLIVER EVERETT
01 Where I'm At
03 Lockdown Hurricane
04 Agatha Chang
05 A Swallow in the Sun
06 Where I'm From
07 Series of Misunderstandings
08 Kindred Spirit
09 Gentlemen's Choice
10 Dead Reckoning
12 Mistakes of My Youth
13 Where I'm Going
DELUXE EDITION BONUS DISC
01 To Dig It
02 Lonely Lockdown Hurricane
03 Bow Out
04 A Good Deal
05 Good Morning Bright Eyes
06 Millicent Don't Blame Yourself
07 Thanks I Guess
08 On The Ropes (LIVE WNYC)
09 Accident Prone (LIVE WNYC)
10 I'm Your Brave Little Soldier (LIVE WNYC)
11 Fresh Feeling (LIVE KCRW)
12 Trouble WIth Dreams (LIVE KCRW)
13 Oh Well (LIVE KCRW)
"I thought I'd have some answers by now"
- "Answers", track 11
Before recording WONDERFUL, GLORIOUS, the last EELS album to be released, EELS leader Mark Oliver Everett called the band together to record a group of highly personal songs at his Los Feliz, California studio. Finding the process uncomfortable, he decided to take a break and reconvened with the band some months later to record what
became WONDERFUL, GLORIOUS, an album full of spontaneous band collaborations. After that album's release and subsequent 73 show world tour, the band returned to what they had started all that time ago.
"I listened to what we had done, and it made me uncomfortable… but
not uncomfortable enough," Everett says now. "I decided to scrub over half of the songs and write new ones
that would make me feel even more uneasy. If I'm not uncomfortable, It's not real enough. I needed to dig a
The resulting album, THE CAUTIONARY TALES OF MARK OLIVER EVERETT, is an extraordinarily vivid and
intimate document of a personal struggle. "It's inspired by something I went though," Everett says. "Someone I
lost, by choice, and later came to regret losing. It wasn't until I started to look at my role in it that it began to
feel like I was getting somewhere worthwhile. The experience transformed me. This is the musical version of that experience. I'm hoping it could maybe serve as some sort of example for others. To learn from my mistakes."
Quite different to the previous EELS release, and in contrast to the high-octane rock n' roll of the last EELS tour, THE CAUTIONARY TALES couples a bare-bones lyrical intimacy with a live orchestra of cello, viola, violins, bassoon, English and French horn, clarinet, flute, saxophone, trumpet, musical saw, glockenspiel and celesta that lends a stunning backdrop to the brutal insights of the lyrics.
"The title may make you think it's a solo album, but it's very much a group effort," says Everett. Indeed, EELS
members Koool G Murder, The Chet, P-Boo and Knuckles are all involved in performing, songwriting, and even
arranging the album's orchestral parts.
"Everyone knows that if you want to write something convincing, you write about what you know," says Everett,
"and what I know best are my experiences. I'm so lucky in so many ways, but it hasn't been easy. I may as well
have been raised by wolves. I've had to figure everything out the hard way, through trial and error. I grew up
very fast in some ways, and very slow in others. These are some of the trials and errors."
There's an arc to the album that sometimes leans towards recrimination:
You are beauty of the earth
You are broken like a glass
You don't know what you are worth
- "A Swallow in the Sun"
If I could do just one thing
Set the clock back many years ago
I'd teach that motherfucker that raised you
How to treat you right
- "Series of Misunderstandings"
Yet amongst the finger-pointing, Everett looks at his part in it, and proceeds to get harder and harder on himself in the glare of the interrogation lamp:
Thought we were the lonely type
On an island of the lost
But it was only me
Because you got off
- "Dead Reckoning"
Too many years getting my way
Never let anyone have their say
How could I think it would work out
Never a question, never a doubt
- "Gentlemen's Choice"
Everyday I live in regret and pain
You just don't let that get away
- "Kindred Spirit"
Everett's unusual early years were detailed in his book THINGS THE GRANDCHILDREN SHOULD KNOW,
wherein he documents growing up in an odd, dysfunctional family and the subsequent deaths of all its members except himself. Here, his quest to understand his problems leads back to them:
Three ghosts and I sitting on the couch last night
Catching up on all the time
It's been a while since we got together
And you know that it's often on my mind
- "Where I'm From"
His search for understanding is spread wide. Is it his problem, the world's, or both?
Meaning to find meaning in the most meaningless of times
Believing I believe in something beyond nickels and dimes
And I opened up my heart and said "This much I'll allow:
All who enter welcome in"
And I thought I'd have some answers by now
Eventually, the interrogation leads to some genuine understanding and resolve:
In the dark of night I might
Be able to make myself think
That I'm still a younger man
But when the light of day shines down
There's no way to get around it
I am not a younger man
I keep defeating my own self
And keep repeating yesterday
I can't keep defeating myself
I can't repeating the mistakes of my youth
- "Mistakes of My Youth"
"It's all a bit embarrassing," Everett says now. "But I figure it was a worthwhile endeavor, and I might as well
put it out there for all to see - with my name and photo on it - no sugarcoating. When I was 10 years old my
favorite album was Plastic Ono Band by John Lennon. The way he cut right through to the brutal truth really
resonated with me, This is all his fault. I blame John Lennon," he jokes. "It wasn't an easy process, and I
wouldn't want to go through it again. But I'm glad I did. I'm a better person for it, and I hope others can gain
some perspective or awareness from it and maybe even apply it to their own lives. Maybe it could even start the process for some. Or at least make the process a little easier for them. To know they're not alone."