Included in the album art for Poor Moon — the wonderful 2011 LP from Durham’s Hiss Golden Messenger — is a picture of main man M.C. Taylor guiding his toddling son Elijah through the woods. Barefoot with a straw hat covering his face, Taylor smiles as his first born explores a little further up the path, staring with wondrous intensity at his hand, which is holding what appears to be a pine cone.
The image lines up perfectly with lead-off track “Blue Country Mystic.” The song’s sly and seductive funk backs up a narrative from a father a little further down the road. “Now, they tell me you’re as wild as I was,” Taylor sings, his piercing croon resounding with disbelief. “Such a crazy dream for a child of mine, you who’ve grown so dark with the sun.” Taylor can set his son on the right path, but it will be up to him to become the right kind of man.
Poor Moon was recently reissued on CD by Tompkins Square, and with the new wave of promotion comes a video for Taylor’s poignant rumination on fatherhood. The clip follows the thematic lines of the picture, opening with images of Taylor and his son grooming and cleaning in a white-walled bathroom. The clip then proceeds through a montage of mounting maturity — a carnival giving way to graffiti on a train car and then people crowding onto an underground subway platform. The message remains simple and poignant: a parent’s control can only go so far.