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The Spirals: Music

A Whole Long While

(Candice Nokes with Mark Truesdell and the Lost Pioneers)
1997
Candice Nokes - lyrics, guitar and vocals; Tom Plutshack, mandolin, guitar; Jared Drake, bass guitar; Bob Mueller, drums; Brian Hill, trombone; Mark Truesdell, backup vocals. Written circa 1992.
A Whole Long While was written circa 1991-92 by then-Milwaukeean, Candice Nokes. It began as a poem and was born into a song as Candice listened to it more carefully. The synergy of her reflections on various expectations of society during daily walks and mundane tasks, eventually turned corners that resulted in pivotal moments of self-transformation over time.

Candice’s walks through Lake Park and the east side of Milwaukee painted the cityscape for this song. The rhythm is based on Candice’s own walking rhythm, among other city dwellers’ walking rhythms, especially along Wahl Avenue, a cliff overlooking Bradford Beach and Lake Michigan.

The Girl in this song is a late adolescent / early adult struggling with who she is as a person, much less as a woman. She represents many parts of many women combined, both real and literary.

The Crooked Man is based on a real person who was very tall, but not able to stand straight or act in ways that that society expected. Candice saw him often while on her east side journeys. This person seemed to be in his own world, but he always greeted Candice calmly, and often kindly, even though he seemed to be struggling with what appeared to be a significant mental illness that caused him great agitation. At that point, Candice didn’t know how to help him. But he helped her over time, as humanness was revealed to her through these frequent connections, in ways that were previously unknown in her limited experience. She recognized that some of the frustrations, agitations, fears, loneliness, and need for support as part of her self, as part of humanness – experiences to be attended to, not feared and ignored.

She simultaneously learned to simply be with the part of him that he was presenting that day, to simply offer who she was that day – and knew that whoever they were, no apologies felt necessary. She thought that was a funny way to think about it – no apologies needed – why would anybody apologize for him or her self? But if she was honest, she was always picking out flaws, and needs for improvements, instead of simply being.

Mental illnesses can be devastating experiences when they are out of control. This description is not meant to reify mental illness. But an illness is an illness – it is not the person. Truly seeing this person over time allowed Candice to see the complex nature of his humanity, instead of simply of kicking into survival mode, fearing and avoiding what she did not understand. She took the time, then, to apply the same idea to her Self.

Nature has always been the conduit of deeper understanding for Candice, and the Girl in this song relinquishes her intellectual and surface understanding of herself to a more respectful and authentic sense of Being, as she converses with the night sky, once again, over time. “The stars just kept nodding and smiling,” as this Girl goes through this timeless psychological birth, of many still yet to come.
A Whole Long While

She walked
By the sea side
with distant eyes, oh,
and a sassy ass.

She cried by her bedside
in greys and greens melting
into the city cracks.

And she cried a whole long while
No longer careful of her style.

An afternoon or so ago,
The Crooked Man
mumbled about Jesus.
And the flies Buzzed around
in agreement.

The girl winced, then smiled,
at the man's inside out style.

She cried a whole long while
No longer careful of her style.

Staring up at the firmament,
She plead humility & Discontent.
And the stars just kept nodding
and smiling. Her neck
just slightly bent, a smile
spread upon her lips.

And She wasn't even trying.
She's all through with
her Lying.

She cried
a whole long while.
No longer careful of her style.
No longer careful of her style.

c 1991
Candice Nokes w/ Mark Truesdell and the Lost Pioneers
Recorded 1997 at Walls Have Ears Studios
(Milwaukee, WI, owner Bill Stace)
Produced by the Lost Pioneers and
Brian Egeness

Sound Engineering by Brian Egeness

Candice Nokes
(lyrics, lead vocals and guitar)
Mark Truesdell (guitar)
Tom Plutshack (guitar, mandolin)
Jared Drake (bass)
Robert Mueller (drums)
Brian Hill (trombone)