(Photo by Sandy Kim)
Just a few days over four years ago, Girls came for their first ever trip to NYC as a band. At that time, if my memory serves me, they were Christopher Owens, JR White, Corey Lee, and Brett Eastman. A few weeks before the trip, True Panther had released the “Lust for Life b/w Morning Light” 7″, the first 100 of which came with custom hand-made corsages some friends and I sat around making after work and on weekends to reward pre-order customers. Just six months before that, while watching Holy Shit, Christopher’s other band at the time, at The Eagle in SF I’d asked to release their single and they’d agreed. On this trip they played 4 shows in 3 days and did a practically improvised acoustic session on WNYU. After a few days, they left for their show at the MIDI Festival in Southern France, making their 2nd-6th shows all occur outside of San Francisco.
At the WNYU show they played a couple of songs and chatted a bit. Christopher introduced a song by saying, “When we started talking about how cool it would be to play a show with just the two of us and that’s where it all started…” JR joked, “It’s all working out so good.” Then they played the previously unheard, “Forgiveness.”
To this day, it’s my favorite Girls song. The sentiment is so beautiful, so transcendent, crushing yet hopeful. I downloaded the whole session and cut out that track so I could listen over and over and over. It was proof that in our midst was one of the most special and talented songwriters around, someone who had the power to distill a complex concept into a pure and honest message. We know what quickly happened after that trip…Girls has toured the world as one of the best live bands around, received well-deserved praise for three incredible records, played with other awesome musicians and permanently implanted their music in the hearts of thousands of people. Things really quickly did begin to “work out so good.” JR and Christopher ultimately transformed “Forgiveness” into a majestic 8-minute jammer on Father, Son, Holy Ghost, but this bare acoustic version is still the one I come back to, marvel over, shed tears to, etc. etc. etc… It’s the one I come back to, now that we’re saying goodbye to Girls, and saying hello to a—to a certain extent—unknown, but surely bright future.
I want to thank them for putting their faith and confidence in the creative circle of friends that formed around their music. I am thankful that Christopher’s songs came at a very unsure and relatively dark point of my own life, that it brought me strength, and a portal to pursue my own dreams. Grateful that they trusted a completely unproven, unfunded record label with their music, and grew alongside it. Their faith helped make their friends’ efforts “real”…for Sandy Kim (photography), Focus Creeps (videos), Matt Koshak (sound), myself, and a few others. We wanted to be a “part” of this band, and their allowing us to fill our respective roles as if we were pros, was a big part of those roles eventually becoming our careers. Their ascent was to a certain extent our first one, and for that I think we’ll be eternally grateful as our own careers enter their next stages. I’m grateful for the friendships that have formed, built on mutual fandom, and the wisdom of people at Matador and Turnstile. It’s a testament to Girls’ characters as people that they brought their community of friends with them along on their journey.
Surely “Forgiveness” isn’t just about healing old traumas but coming to a point of faith, where one can accept that things can get better, that dreams can come true, and the future can hold unexpected but spectacular promise. I’m certainly sad to see one of my favorite groups ever disband, but overjoyed to see what the next evolutions are: the life-altering Christopher Owens songs we haven’t heard yet, the brilliant production JR will lend to other artists, the imagery, the poetry, the shows and stories! I believe in them and the music that they will make. I love Girls and I always will. That faith overshadows the pain of saying goodbye with the eagerness to say hello, to whatever future is to come.
Respect to all the Girls over the years… Christopher Owens, JR White, John Anderson, Gregory Lee Boyd, Dinah Carillo, Myles Cooper, Brett Eastman, Makeda Francisco, Garrett Goddard, Mosses Issaih, Will Ivy, Derek James, Matthew Kallman, Corey Lee, Skyler Lucas, Ryan William Lynch, Tom Marzella, Tracy Nelson, Hayes Shannesey, Darren Weiss, Evan Weiss.
-Dean Bein, 7.22.12