I Think I Got a Little Too Much into the Librarian Thing

Today was going to be one of those normal days where I, you know, get out of bed and do stuff, but then a series of events saw that this was not going to be a likely outcome. Firstly, I realised that if I stretched myself out enough I could reach my laptop and bring it back to bed, all the while retaining contact with my mattress and duvet, and secondly, I touched the radiator that I sleep next to and found that some poor kind housemate had deemed our home freezing enough to turn on the heat, thereby condemning me to at least another hour in bed. Any other day of the week, these events would spell disaster (rushed shower, skipped breakfast, failed degree) but on a Sunday, I let that lazy part of my personality take precedence for a few hours. I can go save the world in the afternoon.

It’s been a week made busy by interviews and coursework. I also found the time to have a nice little trip with my friend Cat to London to see Iron & Wine. I know there were some naysayers among you who commented and emailed about the ‘meh’ quality of Iron & Wine’s latest album, but after seeing Sam and his band perform at the Roundhouse on Tuesday night, it became apparent to me how much of a ‘live’ album this is supposed to be. The interwoven percussion and echoey synth and sax solos and falsetto shrieks just seem to work when you’re seeing them do it live. To be fair, I got a little tired of the long, artsy instrumental breaks that occasioned throughout the concert, when it seemed like the band just wanted to have a drawn-out jam session, and we all kind of swayed awkwardly in the audience, wondering if we could get to the bar and back before the next song started.

For the most part, though, it was an excellent gig, and Sam Beam was such a performer, despite having a cold that nearly made him cancel the show. He collectively called us ‘man’ the whole night, and responded with charm to those weird people you inevitably get at gigs, who made awkwardly bad jokes and shouted out how much they wanted to live in his beard. Even if you were underwhelmed by the latest album, I definitely recommend you go catch Iron & Wine on their tour through the UK and US. Sam knows that we all really want to hear the old stuff, and I would have gone just to be able to sing along with him as he played Naked As We Came.

Do you remember when my older sister Holly called that guy in the library a D-bag? Since then, I’ve found serious pleasure in egging myself on to speak up against strangers who are getting away with being jerks in public. I specialise in shushing people who are making too much noise, politely but firmly silencing loud earphones and giving death stares to cell phone chatterers on the Quiet Zone section of trains. I call myself The Librarian, but I am constrained by no library: if you talk when sound is not allowed, YOU WILL BE SHUT DOWN.

A group of girls suffered my muting wrath on Tuesday night as they chatted and laughed through an otherwise gorgeous rendition of Lion’s Mane. I sighed inwardly, and donned the armour of The Librarian.

I just can’t let people get away with being obnoxious! Ugh! The injustice of it! I assume that the crowd of people around me are always also silently cursing the noisy perpetrators and it feels good to do my public duty. Sometimes after the deed is done I make eye contact with fellow passengers or theatre fans who smile and nod, as if to say, Thank you, Librarian, you have conquered another obstreperous foe, kudos to you. Of course, I am humble and expect nothing but thanks for the duty I perform. It’s my cross to bear.

And so the moment came, the chatty girls had surpassed the minute of grace they are allowed, they had deflected my Polite Stares of Justice, they had talked over my Throat Clearings of Valour…I was left with no choice. I struck.

“Excuse me ladies, but if you’re going to chat, could you do it at the bar?”

Silence. They were dumbstruck. Behind me I heard Cat groaning with embarrassment. That’s okay. She doesn’t understand the tenets of The Librarian Code.

Suddenly I realised the three teenagers I had expected to be talking to were not teenagers at all. They were much older than me, probably in their early thirties, and probably wondering why such a little boy was telling them to shut up. I held my ground. The standoff continued for a few seconds. Then the leader spoke:

“Oh, sorry. Sure.”

Justice was served. I removed my Librarian cape (lest anyone should learn my true identity) and returned to the concert. The rest of the song was beautiful, and only made sweeter by the silence behind it. Of course Cat spent the rest of the night trying to disassociate herself from me, but I wasn’t ashamed. Sometimes honour comes at a price.

Remember, The Librarian cannot work alone. Have you ever stood up to a stranger, or been too afraid to say anything? Cacophonous foes lie everywhere and the League of Silence needs your help to subdue them. Will you answer the call?


Talking of justice, Iron & Wine’s opening act, Daniel Martin Moore, who you might remember as the duet partner of cello-jammin’ Ben Sollee, is a big activist in the fight against the mountaintop removal mining that is slowly destroying his home state of Kentucky. He gave us a brief overview of the scourge before playing a beautiful rendition of his own Flyrock Blues, written about the large flyrock boulders sent cascading into people’s homes when mining engineers blow pieces out of mountains with explosives. Listen to him singing with Ben Sollee below.

Mountaintop removal has been a key issue with folkists today, which is an incredible echo of the past. It seems Sollee and Moore have picked up on the same sort of issues Guthrie and Seeger were singing about more than half a century before. Tom Paxton is a big activist too, maybe he provides the link between past and present.

Whatever your feelings about MTR, I’m pretty sure your feelings about Daniel Martin Moore are the same as mine. I’ve posted a slightly less politically-charged song below, one he played on Tuesday night, for you to enjoy and let me know what you think.

But please, guys, no talking while the song plays.

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9 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. anonymouse says:

    I once directed a really loud HARRUMPH in the direction of a chuppy (Chinese yuppy) when his phone rang during my friend’s funeral in Hong Kong. No actually, I think I let the trilling bell go. It was when he said “waaaaay” into the receiver and continued with the conversation.

  2. PHB says:

    I can see Marvel Comics starting a whole new genre of superhero legends starting with “The Librarian”.

    I can just see you strutting around with your underpants on outside your tights looking fit and buff and then the call comes and you have to quell some noise somewhere. You duck into a convenient phone booth and emerge all skinny and weedy with your trade mark tweed jacket and a pair of seriously thick lensed spectacles ready to right wrongs wherever you’re needed.

    Does the Librarian have a “Robin”-like sidekick? Could I possibly be “Bookshelf”?

    Glad the Iron and Wine went well. Shame we only had 55 seconds of him/them! Also liked the Johnny Flynn duet on the previous post. Great close harmony.

  3. 5

    Oh, I am the QUEEN of the Librarians. I don’t even care anymore — they get ONE death stare and if they don’t take the hint, the Librarian cape goes on and they are SHUSHED TO WITHIN AN INCH OF THEIR LIVES. I have shushed a conductor on Amtrak, people with loud headphones on the plane, and many, many, many chatterers at concerts. The chatterers at concerts are the worst — why do they even pay money to go to a show if they’re just going to talk through the whole thing?

    Librarians unite! The world needs more of us.

  4. AG says:

    I was at an Editors gig at the Hammersmith Apollo, and I think the problem was I was sober that evening. So when they played a few songs off the new album that some non die hard fans hadn’t heard, and saw that as a good time to chit chat, after tutting and glaring didn’t work, I told them it was rude to others and disrespectful to the artist. That soon shut them up!
    I think more people should stand up to those rude chatterers! Well done you!

  5. Stacey says:

    You’re lucky, I tried to voice my concern to a driver in regards to his rude driving skills which only ended with him rolling his window down and slowing down the car. Which then I resorted to screaming, “OMG! He’s going to kill me!”

    (This, of course, happened in New Jersey.. it’s a state that needs the work of The Librarian)

  6. Katrina says:

    Oh I love that you’re doing that. I’m terrible at it. I take the the T (subway) to work every morning, and home every night, and there are always people talking loudly on cell phones, blasting music through headphones, and a recent favorite – a girl playing music on her cell phone (as in, through the speakers, no headphones) and dancing in the aisle. I never have the guts to speak up, but always wish I did :).

  7. molly says:

    re: talking during the concert: i wish you were at every concert with us!! we usually seeth in pain thru-out!



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