Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cloud Cult - No One Said It Would Be Easy

I discovered Cloud Cult back in 2010 but the band has been around since 1995. I reviewed Cloud Cult’s “Everybody Here is a Cloud” in 2011 and since that time I have fallen in love with the band. Meanwhile an overwhelming majority of the rest of the world, even people who listen to indie rock, still have no idea who Cloud Cult are.

Cloud Cult – Everybody here is a Cloud, review:

Craig Minowa, Cloud Cult’s front man is a really good song writer. I love songs like “You’ll be Bright,” “Journey of the Featherless,” “Unexplainable Journey,” “Running with the Wolves,” “Take Your Medicine” and “Chemicals Collide.” This is how I determine a good band from a great band, volume of quality. I just mentioned six songs by Cloud Cult, not including “Everybody Here is a Cloud” and I haven’t even gotten to the one I want to focus on, and that song is “No One Said It Would Be Easy.” Conclusion, Cloud Cult is great band.

“You came up from the ground,
From a million little pieces,
You're a pretty human being,
“Yeah, you're a pretty human being.”

The opening lyrics (seen above) are just so charming, what a wonderful and sort of geeky thing to say to another human being. One day a situation will arise where saying this to a pretty girl will feel appropriate and I will finally get to see how effective of a line it is. Then we get this;

“When it all comes crashing down,
Try to understand your meaning,
No one said it would be easy,
This living it ain't easy.”

These words really struck a chord with me. I’ve lived a tough life; I try not to complain too much because I am healthy and strong, and no permanent damage has ever been done to me, but still it has been an aggravating journey so far to say the least. Granted, no one said it would be easy, and yeah, this living it ain’t easy.

That’s how I interrupted “No One Said It Would Be Easy.” I took it to be a song embracing and accepting the hardships of life. Craig Minowa reminded me that I was not the only one out there frustrated with the ways my life had played out, and I would be lying if even in my youth I expecting things to be much different. There is a silver lining in our troubled lives, even though things are bad seemingly all the time, the truth is things are generally pretty good, and there are so many little things making it all worthwhile, and they are always there all the time. I began to suspect that “No One Said it Would Be Easy” was no less a flagship song for Cloud Cult then “Everybody Here is a Cloud,” after all who listens to Cloud Cult? I may be the only one. Their first music video was released in 2009, fourteen years after the band’s inception. I began to strongly suspect “No One Said It Would Be Easy” was as much about the band Cloud Cult as it was about the struggles of life. Like everyone Minowa surely had struggles in life, but given the obscurity combined with the longevity of Cloud Cult I believe it is safe to say that being Cloud Cult was probably never easy.

Cloud Cult’s documentary DVD is titled “No One Said It Would Be Easy.” When I learned that, I knew I had nailed it. No one would name their documentary “No One Said It Would Be Easy” if they hadn’t experienced their unfair share of challenges.

In the DVD the opening scene is a collection of fans explaining what Cloud Cult means to them. For the most part these fan’s feelings and their connection with Cloud Cult is completely different than my own. They talked at length about copping with the loss of a loved one and acceptance of who they were and other beautiful sentiments that I had not walked away with when listening to Cloud Cult. Further to the point, no one interpreted “No One Said It Would Be Easy” the way I had, and at no point during the DVD was any such message declared. I was still right though, everything fit in place.

Craig Minowa and the rest of the Cloud Cult are the real deal. They are real hippies with genuine messages of peace, love and joy told to us through the magic of music. Minowa and his wife live on a farm and Craig’s recording studio is a custom made room sound proofed with recyclable materials and the remains of an old chicken coop. Everyone in Cloud Cult has a job that does not involve music, Craig is an environmental scientist and his wife Connie is an educator as well as an artist. Craig and Connie started Earthology records together through which they developed the first one hundred percent postconsumer recycled CD packaging in the U.S. market. There are a lot of people who talk a lot about the environment and try so hard to look so good in the eyes of the compassionate, but a musician who is also an environmental scientist, who lives on an organic farm with a chicken coop recording studio and has an inefficient non-money making one hundred percent environmentally friendly recording company is the sort of man who is walking the walk. Also Minowa hardly advertising himself as anything special in the crusade for the environment, he is just a really great guy.

But no one said it would be easy.

Craig Minowa may be the
nicest man ever.
There was a great pain suffered by Craig and Connie, their son passed away at age two, and like any loving kind hearted people it hit them hard. Combine all that with poverty, and the continuous failed financial investment of playing shows to empty crowds and I dare say it was never easy for Craig and Cloud Cult. Here is the thing about Craig, he is nicest man ever. Now I have never met the man but he is always smiling in the documentary, even when he has no idea he is being filmed, even when he is talking about being hopelessly broke, playing to literally empty crowds and generally utterly failing at being a productive adult. More so Craig is smiling even when talking about his son. Even when Craig Minowa is clearly heartbreakingly upset, he is smiling. It is the sort of hippie sunshine hope that typically should be mocked but in Minowa’s case he is so real and so absolutely resolute in his enthusiastic conviction there is no room for mockery. Minowa is a man with a very healthy set of priorities of love and joy, which probably should be on the top of everyone’s list of things to do and be. If only I could find the inner peace to live like that.

It is the sort of joy and kindness and pure lawful goodness that I have always sought in my life. We all hurt. We all suffer. However we all know it feels so good, to just be alive. This life will never be easy, but so what? Everything you need is here, everything you fear is here, and it’s holding you up. It just keeps holding you up, and you’re a pretty human being. Yeah, you’re a pretty human being.

Someday someone other than me will one day be talking about how great Cloud Cult is. Cloud Cult is by far the best kept secret in indie rock.

- Colin Kelly

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