Jeremy Earl (Woods) & Glenn Donaldson (Skygreen Leopards, The Reds, Pinks & Purples) met sometime in the mid-aughts and bonded over a love of tambourines and DIY sounds. They shared many stages since, and their first serious collaboration was on the 2011 Woods album Sun & Shade. Around 2018, Earl was restless in upstate NY and accepted an invite to record in Donaldson’s studio in an undisclosed rural coastal town in Northern California. In a week they emerged with nearly an album’s worth of hazy folk-rock and psych-pop with touches of more outré lo-fi noise. Jeff Moller (The Papercuts) added bass, and they put the finishing touches on during quarantine. Heaven and Holy ebbs and flows like coastal fog between songs and dreamy instrumentals splitting the difference between The Clean’s Unknown Country and The Byrds’ Fifth Dimension.
“Not So Bad” is a song I originally wrote for my band The Reds, Pinks & Purples. When Jeremy Earl came out to California to record Painted Shrines with me in 2018, I thought it would be fun to hear his signature high voice singing lead on that particular melody, and I think it worked out. The Painted Shrines record got shelved for a bit, while Jeremy worked on Purple Mountains and the latest Woods, so I ended up releasing my own version as “Your Parents Were Wrong About You” on my recent LP You Might Be Happy Some Day. Both songs came out around the same time unexpectedly. The versions are pretty different, and maybe it’s interesting to hear our different vocal approaches. Compare and contrast if you feel like it.
All of my songs are based on real feelings but not always on actual events. This song was based on a real moment in my life many years ago. I had a girlfriend I was in love with and through circumstances I can’t recall, it ended up that I was supposed to have dinner alone with her mom — actually kind of terrifying to be honest, wanting to make a good impression. Her mom seemed very cordial, but she spent half the dinner trying to convince me that her daughter was a “little bit much” and maybe even “crazy,” and she not so subtly wondered what I even saw in her. It was terribly sad, but I weathered it and just said, “Maybe you are wrong about her.” During that same visit, her mom pressured me into serving legal papers on her ex-husband, my girlfriend’s stepfather, while he was getting off an airplane. He had been dodging the process servers and wouldn’t recognize me, so I had a chance of succeeding.
This song is a tribute to my ex and anyone else with parents who are undermining and inappropriate or abusive. I extended it to be about someone who wants to be who they are at the risk of not being accepted. “Your life is wrong but you’re not so bad/Is that your fault they can’t understand?” That’s about taking that internalized negativity and rejecting the blame and guilt for it. Let them carry it. We need other people to survive, but it’s OK to reject the negative people in your life and move on. Let them earn your trust if they want it. Find some other good people to accept you, love you and try to make your own life somewhere.
— Glenn Donaldson 2/12/21