I had the esteemed pleasure of getting to see Mighty Mike McGee twice in the last week – once at St. John’s Booksellers for Them’s Fighting Words, and at Slabtown for the Portland Poetry Slam – and when he performs, the audience listens. It’s no different with Harmony, his newest CD release. In fact, after seeing him at Slabtown, I tried to put it in my car to listen on the way home, and I found myself pulling over in order to pay more attention to his words.
One of the best things about Mighty Mike is that while his work is poetry, it’s much more like an older brother, or a best friend, talking to you about the things you’ve always wanted to know, but have been too afraid to ask anyone about. Or like the advice you never knew you needed.
He’ll write you the perfect tales of love – unrequited, or otherwise (“Nobody (A Love Poem,” “A Story of Us,” “Always (A Break Up Piece)”) – or give you the story of farting in front of celebrities, in not one, but three parts (I, II, III). Most importantly, he will just talk to you.
Harmony, is as organic as it gets. As he states on the back of the hand folded and stapled CD sleeve, “the goal was to not avoid ambient noise. [He] often recorded with the window open and left in various sighs, clips and glitches.” In doing so, he created the perfect atmosphere. A lot of times, poetry CDs can feel sterile. A voice against a silent backdrop can make it feel too produced, too emotionless. The way McGee presents this disc makes you feel like you’re sitting in a coffee shop with him, or the back porch (the guitars, piano, and banjo definitely help with this one), or a train car. You can truly hear each bit of emotion, or sarcasm, or longing. It’s that little personal touch that makes it that much more of a solid experience you’ll return to, rather than just something you’ll throw in when you find it again somewhere in your collection.