Noe Venable

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Thoughts on Goldenrod

Posted by on Nov 2, 2014

Thoughts on Goldenrod

Our new music video, Goldenrod, is up!  Kickstarter backers can preview it now, and all others will be able to see it shortly.

Now that the video is finished, Eric and I look at it and say, WOW, how did we do that?  And what did we do, exactly?  This is often the feeling that art gives me, especially my own art.  I feel both connected to it, and disconnected from it, so that it shocks and puzzles me, even as putting it out there brings release.

For this video, we wanted to show a group of people coming together to create ritual.  We decided to document a gathering of unusual, clearly defined characters.  It would involve dancing and fire.  Beyond that, we didn’t plan much.  We had a location, a man in a tree suit, some fire, some fuel.  We stationed lookouts at the periphery.  And then we went to it.

My little son, Ember snuggled with his grandmother a safe distance from the flames, and I thought about how long it had been since we were all outside under the stars.  Too long, I thought, living in the city.

The theme we sought most to emphasize in this song is the yearning to transcend ones individual self and reconnect with something greater.  We played a lot with the idea of wildness.  Not wildness as something separate and other, but rather wildness as our genesis and birthright.

My own costume is an homage to indigenous peoples, whose life ways have always honored the principles that modern environmentalism is just coming around to.  Most importantly, that the earth is not simply a material, passive thing to be objectified and used for its resources.  Rather, Earth’s rhythms need our participation and support.  What we call “nature” is not separate from us.  It is the true whole to which we belong.  


If my costume is an homage, it also reflects my own situatedness, and the people who are dear to me.  The top that I wear in the video, the Guatemalan huipil, is worn in honor of my Godparents, an always source of wisdom and strength to me.  The yellow cloth at my waist comes from my mother, and honors her loving support.  The headdress I made of ribbons are for my grandmother, who cherished bright colors, and saw beauty wherever she went.

Wearing these things helped me feel them with me, and in that sense, our creative process drew on their influence as well.

A couple words about the masked puppet man (played by Alan Lin)…  If this video is about rediscovering wildness, it’s also about things that hide or hamper that discovery.   I think this is what Alan’s costume was about, though I didn’t understand it concretely at the time.


With his factory produced puppet and mask, this character makes me think about what it is to be trapped in a role.  I picture him as someone who is trapped in work that doesn’t suit him, living a life that doesn’t feel like his.  One can cram ones self into such a life, but at great cost, I think…  The masked man is so crammed into an ill fitting life that at this point the mask doesn’t come off, even when he is alone.

And yet, the masked man is beautiful because he STILL TRIES.  He to seeks to overcome his isolation.  He yearns, he strives, he too comes to the woods, salutes the tree man, and raises his factory made puppet to the sky.  Such is wildness within us, I think, rising in a tide, a tide of many hearts opening, many hands feeling their way back.

Well, thanks for reading!  I hope you enjoy the video.  We’ve got a few more coming, and will post them as they come.


Noe V

Devon Athey

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