Of the tracks on the album, his letters "Mailman" and "Vlad the Astrophysicist" most resonated with me. Explaining DNA to a 6-year-old and the fact that all living things come to an end... Been there, done that. But I have not yet had the conversation about life in the universe with my kids. It's coming. My eldest has those deep Carl Sagan moments now and then, so it can't be too far off. These stories from Peter should resonate with any of us who have our own kids or know people who do.
And the music is always amazing. "Shoulderbirds (You Know me)" and "On a Wing and a Prayer" tell stories with harmonies and melodies interwoven with lyrics that make you stop and think.
"Shoulderbirds (You Know Me)" introduces us to the little "Shoulderbirds" who make you want to sing and brighten your day. Sometimes we're swept away by the woes of the world and we need little reminders that everything will be okay. We all know those people who can brighten any day and remind us what's important. This is Peter's tribute to those little "Shoulderbirds" in our lives.
And in "On a Wing and a Prayer" we hear about the people living in the moment day to day. "I know for you and me, there's no guarantee..." as they go through the world hoping for the best with a song in their hearts. I'm unfortunately not one of these folks, but my wife is and we've gone on many an adventure on the spur of the moment, so I can appreciate the sentiment.
The last track on the album is Mulvey singing the classic, "Love Is Here to Stay", accompanied only by his guitar with the gentle roar of a traveling plane in the background. One of my favorite songs, it's great to hear Peter's take on the immortality of love as he covers the last song George and Ira Gershwin ever wrote. Hard to top Gershwin.
Letters from a Flying Machine is another in a long line of albums from Peter Mulvey that — with its great guitar, folk/rock sensibilities, and simply wonderful music — deserves more than one listen.