Goldmine premieres the new video for the song “Golden Cup” by the group Be.
“Golden Cup” is from the new Be album, “You” (at left) which features Ken Stringfellow (Big Star) and founder David Hawkins.
“’Golden Cup’ is kind of a mystery,” explains Hawkins. “It’s a sacred song, but it rocks. On one level, it’s a conversation with the Goddess; thanking her for literally saving my life, and a plea for healing and transcendence. On another level it’s a relationship song; written to my love. It’s a love letter to the great Mystery and a paean to the Divine Feminine. And when the chorus kicks in, there is a real transcendent power to it. Ken Stringfellow (Posies, R.E.M., Big Star) is a part of the band now, and when his voice comes in here on the chorus, it really adds to the transcendent quality of the song. I’ve always loved his voice, and it really shines here.
“For me, writing songs is personal; it’s like a cross between prayer and therapy. It’s one of the ways I work through things and express myself, but it’s also a way I connect to the Spirit. It’s Church. It’s very internal and I do it for myself, but it’s been so great to see people moved by it; like they’re warmed by the same fire that warmed me when I wrote it. I love that. That alone makes it all worth it. Music is powerful that way; it’s a universal language. It connects us and brings us what we need; both as writers and listeners. I don’t know where I’d be without it.
“The video was shot in the Joshua Tree desert, at the Hollywood Forever cemetery, and at Ken Stringfellow’s studio in Seattle. I love the psychedelic and collage aspects of it that evolve as the song goes on; I think it captures the ecstatic and wild exuberance of the song. We had a lot of fun making it.
A little more about Be and the album, “You”:
On April 8th, Be, the musical brainchild of the enigmatic American artist David Hawkins, released its second album, “You.” Leader of the band Hawk, acclaimed abstract painter and co-founder of the avant-garde ‘happening’ group The Black Mountain Collective, Hawkins recorded much of “You” at his rural Michigan hideaway, (a barn that he converted to a recording studio on 14 wooded acres), as well as at studios in Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle.”You” also sees Ken Stringfellow (R.E.M., Big Star and the Posies) joining the eclectic group of musicians that make up Be. Stringfellow is also currently recording parts with Hawkins along with renowned drummer Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello, Johnny Cash, Elliot Smith) for the 3rd Be album, the next Hawk album, as well as a new project of Hawkins’, tentatively entitled Here Be Dragons.
Already hailed as an important new band in Europe, Be is creating a stir around the world. The Spanish bellwether Paisajes Eléctricos Magazine called the Be debut “a treasure” and “a huge work of intimate sonic maturity” and likened it to Lucinda Williams, R.E.M. and The Velvet Underground. Chicago powerhouse WXRT has also been a big supporter of Hawkins’ work from the beginning, with DJ Richard Milne featuring his music often and referring to him as an “enigma”, referring to the fact that he releases these incredible albums, plays a few amazing shows, and then disappears, only to turn up later in Paris or Los Angeles. Featuring an eclectic group of musicians who have played with such diverse artists as Kanye West, Iron & Wine and Hal Russell, Be returns with”You,” an album for the ages. With expansive dynamics, lush string arrangements and Hawkins’ singular songwriting and emotive vocals, this is a spellbinding chamber rock masterpiece.
Now living in Los Angeles, Hawkins grew up in Central Illinois, not far from where Michael Stipe (R.E.M.) and Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) went to high school, both of who would influence him greatly. A pivotal moment was hearing R.E.M.’s “Murmur” for the first time. There was something about R.E.M.’s dusky, introverted sound that made him want to explore his own story through song. R.E.M. in turn led him to the band that became his greatest influence; The Velvet Underground. “The VU changed my life”, Hawkins said recently in an interview, “much like Dylan had earlier. The range of emotion, the darkness and beauty intermingled, the dissonance…they made everything else pale in comparison.”
The introspection and melancholy in Hawkins’ work is a result of his life’s path. After three bucolic and formative years of living in a remote rustic farmhouse with his girlfriend, growing their own food and making music and art (what Hawkins refers to as his ‘Thoreau years’), tragedy struck when he returned home to find her dead in their bed. Her death sent his life into a tailspin, and he left Chicago and moved to a friend’s remote cabin in the north woods of Maine to work through his grief through art and music, solitude, and immersion in Nature. He eventually emerged from the other side and returned to Chicago and formed the incendiary rock band Hawk, whose album “Princess America” featured Lawrence Ferlinghetti in words and voice and that released its highly-acclaimed album “I’m On Fire” last year.
With the release of the new Be album,”You,” the melancholy, while still present, is lifting to reveal a wide range of emotions and textures in the music. The opening song, “Save The World,” starts with a single acoustic guitar, but coalesces into a heartfelt rock anthem about sustaining one’s activist energy in a world gone mad, culminating with Hawkins’ and Ken Stringfellow’s emotional vocals playing off the Arabic rave-up strings of the choruses. From the opening power chords and piano of “Golden Cup,” Hawkins lets us in on an intimate conversation with the Goddess, revealing a yearning for enlightenment and salvation and propelled by the Stones-y crunch of his, Tony McQuaid’s and Aaron Bakkers’ three-guitar attack, with Hawkins’ and Stringfellow’s vocals entwining towards the heavens. This is pure transcendent rock magic. The third track, “I Love You,” is a stark and strikingly honest love song that tells the whole story of sustained love with the brilliant lines “I love you / I hate you / I can’t stand you / can’t live without you girl.”
The album then takes a turn into the hypnotic and minimalist dark-jazz groove of “Superstar,” spinning a compelling and textural web of sounds, gradually building into a wall of noise that veers towards and away from a sweet pop cacophony. The stunningly original and noisily infectious groove recalls at once Miles Davis’ modal jams, post-rock giants Tortoise, and the tangled heart of The VU. The taut chords and artful drumming of the uplifting “If You Try” returns to a recurring theme in Hawkins’ work; that of keeping the faith and persevering in the face of life’s tragedies and setbacks. The verses mourn failed dreams and lost hope, but on the choruses, the light bursts through the clouds in a reassuring harmony; “If you try / you can,” again revealing his unique gift of expressing ‘both sides’ in one song. With “You,” Hawkins brings the listener on an emotionally complex and rewarding song cycle. The album touches on universal themes that make his work so rich and human, allowing the listener to ‘live’ in the songs and bask in their warmth, emotional depth and yearning; creating, as one listener put it, a “glowing solace of song”.
Zach Werner’s emotive cello weaves its way through the album, while Regan Souder’s warm and expressive bass holds it all together. With the growling thunder of the opening chords and the tight acoustic rhythm beneath, the deeply personal “Lookin’ Up” explodes with a driving beat and a heartfelt message of encouragement to those in the midst of struggle. “Don’t give up / no way / with a little luck, this’ll be your day.” You can hear the pain, the yearning and the hope he feels all at once; it’s a powerful and poignant rock song that promises to be a college-radio favorite.
This deep and profound album comes to a close with the sprawling “I Get High (On You)”, a six-minute lush and shimmering ode to love. Hawkins’ deep Rhodes piano and Jeff Maslouski’s in-pocket drum groove sets a languid, down-tempo pace, and the song grows steadily, with lyrical strings and guitar lines wrapping and reaching their way to the sky, taking the listener on a soaring flight before laying them down softly at the end, moved and cleansed from this emotional and beautifully cathartic song cycle. You is essential listening, and further evidence of how Hawkins’ singular vision is placing him in the company of the great American songwriters of our time. Be’s artful translation of the human heart and its struggles and triumphs into the language of song is one of the most compelling things to happen to music in a long time, and you’re one of the first to hear it. Take a moment, put in on, and just be.