In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing.
As Smog, Bill Callahan has made some truly lovely—albeit occasionally pretty same-y sounding—tunes. He’s released 12 records as Smog, 11 of them on Drag City, and while they’re all pretty goddamn good, all the music kind of blends together (in my mind, at least) to form this serene but beautiful clump of melancholy tracks. That’s how, even though I’ve been listening to 1997’s Red Apple Falls pretty much exclusively lately, I’ve found myself obsessed once again with “All Your Women Things” off 1996’s The Doctor Came At Dawn.
Callahan’s ode to lingerie, “All Your Women Things” is a nearly 7-minute master class on how to write a song about love, loss, and breasts. Callahan rues, in that unmistakable baritone, that he ignored a woman he’s lost either because of a breakup or a death, saying “Well it’s been seven years / And the thought of your name / Still makes me weak in the knees.” He bemoans the fact that he ignored “your left breast / your right breast” and marvels at “All your bridges and bras / Your cotton and gauze / All your buckles and straps / Releases and traps.” It would be incredibly romantic if it weren’t just unbelievably heartbreaking. (It’s also a little bit creepy, as Callahan songs are wont to be. In the bridge, he says he’s gathered all the woman’s leftover lingerie and made “a spread-eagle dolly.”)
Gut wrenching, eerie, or swoon-worthy, though, “All Your Women Things” is pretty much perfect. It’s one of Callahan’s best songs, and definitely one of my all-time favorites by any artist.