There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Standout Track: No. 7, “Hiram’s Lament,” a country & western waltz in the voice of a man who’s been left by his lover. The verses have the pace of a tired horse on a desert trail, but the chorus speeds to a lively trot as Hiram recites a litany of woes: “The whiskey cup is empty and the dog won’t get up/And the paint is getting thinner every time I look up.”
Musical Motivation: Brookland singer-guitarist Stella Schindler, 38, wrote “Hiram’s Lament” after reading a biography of Hiram “Hank” Williams. “It’s an Old Testament name, but at the same time it conjures up for me the image of a man in the Midwest,” she says. From there, Schindler imagined a man who comes home every day from work and reads a Dear John letter. “Clearly this woman is not coming back, but he’s in denial,” she says. That idea inspired the verse: “Nellie, the lamplight is low/And I can’t read this letter you wrote/Have you gone back to Kansas or are you coming on home?/Oh Nellie, the lamplight is low.”
Hank You Friends: Hiram may be lonely, but that didn’t stop Schindler from enlisting several musician pals to accompany the lament with guitar, percussion, and lap steel. And while Schindler is used to playing solo, everyone who contributed to her album will be performing at her record-release party at the Velvet Lounge. “It’s a small stage,” she says. “I hope we can all fit up there.”
Stella Schindler plays Friday, Aug. 1 at Velvet Lounge.