by Joan Hiller

The Long Winters

Sat June 28


Informing Long Winters mastermind John Roderick that I was wearing my special interviewer's hat (a brown fedora complete with an index card reading "PRESS!" nestled in the brim), I wasn't surprised to learn that he, too was donning fancy headgear: an interviewee hat.

"My hat's big and pointy," he confessed. "Lots of feathers and fishing lures!" It's a perfect selection, especially considering that Roderick is, above all else, a man who has worn many hats in life. An Alaskan native-turned-train-hopper-turned-world traveler-turned-professor of "The Comparative History of Ideas" at the University of Washington-turned-accomplished musician, one has to wonder how stuffed Roderick's closet is with purple ski caps, floppy-brimmed straw sunblockers, and tweed porkpies.

Unlike many multi-trade fellows, Roderick lives a fascinating, productive life that translates beautifully into the masterful story-songwriting found on the first Long Winters full-length, When I Pretend to Fall. More descriptive of personal moments than epic tales from the world of academia or the adventures of hitchhiking through Istanbul (yes, he's done it), the lyrical subjects of Long Winters jams are a testament to Roderick's striking ability to capture life's precious indescribable moments.

"I reached a certain age where I realized that all the things I'd been doing in so many different lives hadn't resulted in anything. Not that it hadn't resulted in wonderfulness, but there's something to be said for completing something," Roderick explains. "Being intelligent or dynamic or creative is, in ways, a curse, because in the here and now of 2003, we have this plethora of choices. I waited for some sort of lightning to strike, and there was a disappointment in arriving at a place that wasn't dependable, and looking across the sea of humanity and thinking that having a calling is a unique experience that happens, y'know, to monks. In the absence of a religious conversion, I've chosen this."