The Pitch’s Infinite Playlist Round 8: Lily Wulfemeyer
Prepare yourself for poetry and yearning
Welcome to The Pitch’s Infinite Playlist, a forever-growing playlist of songs picked by people in KC. View/follow the full playlist on Spotify and you can always go back and check out the full run of articles. Throw the playlist on shuffle and enjoy away!
Playlist Guest #8: Lily Wulfemeyer
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m a poet and a hopeful novelist. I’m a person who really likes to play open-world fantasy/sci-fi RPGs and whose current favorite food is curd rice with lemon pickle. I have three cats who all hate each other. Also, I work at The Pitch as the Content Strategist. My work involves, believe it or not, strategizing content.
Where can we follow/support you and your work?
I’m inconsistent about updating my personal social media, but I’m currently vibing with Instagram @theperksofbeingawulfemeyer (don’t hate on the handle, we all make choices when we’re 18). You can also find me on Twitter @lilygleamnglow where, someday, I might make more Tweets.
You can read my local arts and entertainment features here. Tips or cool press releases for me? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org—I especially like doing really weird stories, queer stories, and covering the literary underbelly of our city.
“Worms” by AlicebanD
There’s such a fraught space between song lyrics and poetry. For some, there’s no space at all.
If you were keyed into the dialogue in the poetry community and the greater literary world when Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature, well—you know that things got ugly. I will never forget how obstinate one of my poetry teachers from undergrad was about the separation between the two art forms.
While I was momentarily star-struck by her big grad student brain and was very happy to hitch my Personal Theories of Poetry Wagon to hers, I’ve since learned the err in my ways. Sure, bad song lyrics don’t make good poetry, despite what 2010s Tumblr led many of us to believe. But to create a church and state separation between the two is to ignore centuries of cross-pollination, as well as artistically distinct multi-genre and multi-media work.
This is all to say: “Worms” is poetry. You could sit down with the lyrics and annotate those babies for hours. (Trust me. That’s exactly what I did.)
Now, I’ll admit that the liminal and effectual magic of “Worms” is, for me, partially born from wondering, “What the fuck is the singer even saying?” I’ve looked this song up on every popular lyrics platform, and each result is so fantastically different on each one, it’s hard not to laugh. But here’s one line that’s impossible to miss and consistently reported across sites: “And when I opened up the lid I found the room was full of girls / And girls were always as a kid the things that scared us all the most.”
Let that seep into you for a moment. I’m especially looking at my AFAB nonbinary and trans babies here; tell me this one doesn’t cut deep for you. These two lines inspired a 15-page story for me.
“Persephone” by Tamino
Is anybody else absolutely THRIVING in this sun-kissed era of Persephone and Hades content? Those two are plastered all over everything from the Broadway mainstage to WEBTOONs. The Queen of Hades herself (or a Persephone-reminiscent figure) is the titular focus of this song from Tamino’s 2019 debut album, Amir. Tamino’s work bowls me over; the chords feel like they’re being plucked on my own tendons and his voice? Butter. Godly. Heavenly.
My favorite lyric in this song is, “When I watched your first bathing / I only warned you with a lowered voice / ‘Be wary of my river’s undertow’ / ‘It flows with water from the coldest source.’” Everything about this song is so deliciously itchy and morally grey.
“Jaws” by Sleep Token
I have yet to unravel the mystique that is Sleep Token. I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time trying to glean an overarching narrative from their body of work, with little success. 92 hours between the release of their recent album in late September to November’s Spotify Wrapped release, apparently. Woof.
What I have managed gleaned is that they are oh so weird. When you Google them, the first question under “People also ask,” is, “What’s the deal with Sleep Token?” This is the deal, as I can best summarize it.
All of the members are anonymous and during performances, they wear bug-face-reminiscent masks. They are beholden to the deity of “Sleep” and their directive for listeners is simple: Worship. Most of their music seems to be focused on the Beloved, and the instrumentals are syrupy and heavy, mingling with the lead singer’s soulful vocals. Some critics feel that their songwriting leaves something to be desired, and while some of their lyrics are more standard angsty rock fare, I find that songs like “Jaws” wield seemingly simple emotional words and concepts with considerable impact.
We’re back to the poetry conversation, too.
One of the things I cherish most about poetry is the line breaks, which allow for multiple meanings and interpretations and devilish little surprises. Reading through line breaks placed in the middle of phrases or sentences is like peeking around a dark corner—you don’t know what lies in wait on the other side, or at the start of the next line.
The lead singer evokes that sense of line break with diligently-placed breaths and by elongating and mutating certain syllables. In “Jaws,” when they begin to croon “Oh and I, I believe we are lo—” and my brain fills in “loved,” as I’m sure many brains would be wont to do. But no—it’s a cruel trick. The vocal delivery of the vowel morphs the line into: “Oh and I, I believe we are locked / Caged and always provoked.” When I first listened to “Jaws,” the effect of this moment was roughly equivalent to pouring water on my brain circuitry, only helped by the fact that I was caught in a thunderstorm while on a walk, over an hour from home.
In conclusion? Sleep is the Beloved. As a chronically tired 23 year old, I endorse this messaging.
“Ashabi” by Mashrou’ Leila
Some singers have voices that feel almost geographic as if they’re mapping out a physical topography with their words. Mashrou’ Leila lead singer Hamed Sinno has one of those voices. I can’t remember who found this song first, my life partner or I, but it’s one of the very first we added to our own infinite (couple’s) playlist, so I’m adding this one on their behalf.
“Rabbit Is Up To Tricks” by Joy Harjo
Welcome to the final nail in the coffin of the poetry vs. song lyrics debate. I first encountered “Rabbit Is Up To Tricks” as a written poem in Joy Harjo’s book, Conflict Resolution For Holy Beings. If you’re unfamiliar with Joy Harjo, she’s an esteemed poet, playwright, and musician—her primary instruments being her voice and saxophone—and a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Since 2019, she’s tenured as the 23rd U.S. Poet Laureate. There’s nothing more I can say about this one, other than, “Just listen.”
“Ribs” by The Crane Wives
I have two major comfort albums right now: the Over the Garden Wall soundtrack and Foxlore by The Crane Wives. Ribs is the fourth track on this mythical and narrative album from the Grand Rapids, Michigan band. The Crane Wives’ music exists at a crossroads between indie rock, folk, and folklore—even the band is named for the well-known Japanese tale of the same name. With three of their members on vocals, every song is a mix and a blend of multiple timbers and delicate harmonies.
“His Hands” by Blegh
Melodic, repetitive in a way that builds urgency, and fantastically horny. You may have some angst and yearning. As a little treat.
“Fancy” covered by Orville Peck
If you are not yet familiar with Orville Peck, welcome to the cult. (Queer country fans, this one is especially for you.) Peck has the voice of a classic male country crooner with the instrumentals of a hazy shoegaze band. He’s my second selection for the playlist that performs masked—all of his tools of obscurity are variations on a rippling fringe attached to a black leather eyepiece. His on-stage persona that of the rural antihero crossed with a drag queen.
“Fancy,” a mournful and fierce ballad of a woman who makes her way out of poverty by becoming a prostitute at a young age, was written and performed originally by Bobbie Gentry, and later covered by Reba McEntire. Peck’s performance of “Fancy” is particularly stunning as he throws all of his gay country energy into the song, effectively queering it and evoking a long history of subliminal queerness in upperclass men.
When the subject of the song dons a gorgeous dress for the first time, Peck changes the lyrics from, “And starin’ back from lookin’ glass was a woman / Where a half-grow’d kid had stood” to “where a half-grown boy had stood.” Of course, he doesn’t change all of the character’s genders—”Fancy’s” patrons in Peck’s version remain men.
“Lonely Worms” by AlicebanD
Everything—time, experience, hearts—come full circle. Or, at least, it’s nice to think they do. So my portion of the playlist will come full circle, in case you didn’t listen to “Worms” closely enough the first time. Revel in the harmonizing, in the layering at the end. Lay in a big empty field under the clouds, and just feel for a while.
This is our exit pursued by a worm cut in half that still goes on without its head.