Kunk in the Kitchen

by Karen Kunkel

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In the Fall of 2013 I visited New York City for the first time. I prolonged my visit into a nigh-two-month stay in large part only possible by the gracious generosity of my dear friends Nathan and Alicia who let me sleep on their couch the whole time.

They lived in Ridgewood in an apartment like a railroad car--a long string of three-ish rooms. The kitchen—painted cheery colors, large windows welcoming in ample sunlight—also had marvelous acoustics! There were a few afternoons during those weeks, when I had the chance and the mood to be left home alone—when I would practice singing and developing my songs in that kitchen. I used my iphone voice-memo tool. All of these songs are built on single take from voice-memos. On the originals, you could hear me remarking on the street traffic from below, or the hum of the fridge—but I was advised to leave that out of chosen tracks—I now wish I hadn't!—c'est la vie—for over the last couple of years I have become more aware of my growing interest in real-time recordings—recordings that transport you to a particular place and real moment, a slice of life—akin, for example, to old field recordings from the early 1900's wherein you hear an old woman weaving an ancient tune in her reedy voice, as the clock strikes ten, and the rooster crows out back. I enjoy recordings that capture a bit of the artist's physical world beyond the song—it's more like time traveling that way—an experience that includes the artpiece of the music, but can be something else too, if not something much more!

In my last few days in New York that fall, I told Nathan I wanted to make a CD from some chosen voice recordings. He got excited for me and kindly helped me edit and mix, enabled me to perform harmonies—I think I got carried away—on one particular song. He also is featured playing banjo for this recording of "Rainy Season"—one take where we shared a mic.

That winter I gave out some burned CD's to a few folks with whom I wanted to share a tiny piece of myself, a token, a symbol of the bits of my heart they already had. I am now more glad than I could have imagined at the time for making such a compilation! For the last couple of years, these seven songs are all that have been available, via Souncloud, for an online reference of my song work. And—Huzzah! I have finally made a personal bandcamp! This lil' EP—Kunk in the Kitchen (Just For Kicks)—will be the first of many compilations I hope to share on this platform, beyond my private communions with the universe in places like kitchens, twilight lit streets, or mountain paths, or the bow of a boat, bedrooms and car cabs. I do indeed have dozens of songs waiting to finished, ditties haunting my brain on the daily—I am grateful I keep hearing music wherever I do wander, and I hope I can continue to manage to capture at least a fraction of it long enough to toss out into the ether and say “Here ya go, whoever! I hope you like it!”

So raise a jar of whatever is near! Cheers to the blessing of sound! The magic of music! The wonder of the interweb! Praise to all the ways we humans can connect, explore, and support each other! I hope you like this little EP made "just for kicks"—And I hope you are able to witness my path from this early inception onward and forward! Thank you for being you. . .

Big love always,

Psssssst. . . I ended up writing a bit (or a lot) about each track. I don't know what I was hoping to do by writing about each of these songs—I suppose it is a chance for further personal reflection on the subjects which inspired each piece—but I hold no expectations that these writings will offer anyone else great enlightenment. Then again, I try not to assume anything! I'd appreciate hearing from you any reaction to these humble creations—as I write in my reflection of “Rainy Season”:

Anything I do, writing a song, sharing thoughts, making any decision on the daily, performing any action—usually is, and always should be, for myself—but none of it is done without hope that others can recognize some of themselves in it—in order to witness and validate my existence and experience, and in turn, I hope they find it useful for their own experience and existence . If my actions provide some kind of use—be it humor, amusement, validation, meaning, inspiration—in any way, no matter how tiny—I would like it.


released April 24, 2016

Karen Kunkel: all songs, lyrics, and melodies; voice, ukulele, keyboard
Nathan Oglesby (Sir KN8): sound mixing, some recording, banjo playing, soul brother
Alicia Papanek: gracious friend, supportive host, cooking lessons, exemplary womanhood



all rights reserved


Karen Kunkel Washington

Karen "Unkel" Kunkel:

musician, vocalist, theater artist, creative collaborator, traveler, wanderer, sailor, friend. . .

based around the waters of Puget Sound, yet seen floating and singing and arting it up all across the States, from Bellingham, WA to Brooklyn, NYC and Beyond.

she wishes you love, peace, and laughter.

all at once,
all together
do it
... more

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Track Name: I Do
Break me,
like a wafer on the tongue,
I will dissolve into thy mouth,
and we will become one.

Take me,
like the holy spirit,
into your body,
and I will fill you up.

Drink me,
like the blood,
we will be each others' saviors,
and we will rise,
reborn again.

Oh save me,
save me from myself,
again and again,
all night--we'll have communion.

Who are you?
Who are you? Do you feel a spirit?
A joy, or a phantom?
Haunting, hunting your shadow. . .

Can you feel it?
feel it--my animal--
feel, feel my devil's tail. . .
and cut if off.

Shave me and shorn me,
and slice your sword into my belly.
Crucify my body--
For your pleasure--
If you love me--
I would die for you--
I do die for you--
I do, I do, I do, I do--
I do.
Track Name: Down by the River
Down by the river,
the mud and the clay,
suck at my feet,
hold all the memories,
of where my brothers and I used to play.

Down by the river,
so muddy and deep,
washes through all
the pain that I keep,
my harvest of memories,
of bad summer days,
on the farm, in the fields, where my brothers used to play.

Down by the river,
where the trees hunch and sway,
to the breeze full of cotton
and wishes, every day,
oh the trees, they sway,
to a song my mother sang,
on a cold winter morning, in the kitchen, by the window, where my brothers used to play.

Oh river, river, river, my god,
one day, my brothers, you will be gone,
but the clay and the trees and the seeds and their songs
will find another daughter and thus they live long,
the clay and the seeds and the trees and their songs,
will find another sister,
and thus they live on.
Track Name: Just a Friend
Just a friend,
I thought of you today,
so I walked some miles to the ocean,
she numbed me with her wind,
and she raked her hands through my hair,
and I felt cold and little (and strange) and strong,
But while I was numb,
I couldn't stop feeling your hands,
seeing your shoulders as you ran,
seein' your head thrown back,
as you ran me over.
You're my friend,
wise and good and fair.
There's something you'll never understand—it's clear.
I thought of you today,
so I went into the ocean,
shocked me into gratitude to be alive.
And I washed the thoughts away,
'til I was spent and numb,
and I crawled upon the shore to dry.
Just a friend,
I scream and yell and sing,
but I don't cry, I don't cry.
Track Name: Rainy Season
Rainy Season

Tryin' to it hold together, alone in the elevator,
Listenin' for the tickin' of that great alligator,
Lickin' his lips, waitin' for me at the edge of the sea—
I never mean to be mad, I never mean to be sad, I just wanna be—
So sorry 'bout the melancholy—
I hope you just laugh at me.
I never mean to be mad, I never mean to be sad, I just wanna be—
I never mean to smile so desperately—
if it please you, please laugh at me!
But the rainy seasons come. . .
And I am not so young—I think I just got done—growin' up a little—
Were you watchin? Were you waitin? Thanks for helping—Where you there?
And the rainy seasons come—
And I think I'm almost done—fightin' this one—
Did you see me? Were you watchin'? I don't care—
And the rainy seasons come—
And I think I'm almost done—comin' back from that last trip—
I wonder if anyone I know will still be there—
I wanna show ‘em what I found!
And the rainy seasons come—
I think I almost feel the sun, gonna turn my way—
He’s gonna look my way,
Oh wouldn't it be nice, it’s gonna be so nice!
How have you been, man?
I want to know—
How have you been, my friend?
I’m going to ask you—
How have you been?
I’ve been gone such a long time—
How have you been?
I swear I'm almost really there—
I swear I’m listening—
How have you been? How have you been. . .
Track Name: Cave
by Karen Kunkel

When I used to hear your voice,
when you came to visit. . .
My bedroom cave turned into a cathedral,
and your own scent incensed my mind.
Your voice, it rolled like a preacher's rumble—
Your words, like wine—
And the hollow that you left in the nest of my bed has left me humble.
It gathers drops of pain, like a gutter gathers rain,
and I wallow in its graying shadow.
Wading in and out, choking on my shouts,
my cave has lost its quiet—
I don't believe in God anymore.
You took the altar when you left.
I genuflect not from respect—
but fear that I too much neglect my mind—
and thus reflect it too much in kind—
and I detect decomposition of the divine—
and I suspect it is too late to resurrect the flame that used to make me shine!
Oh—oh! You sure snuff out the candles when you go, don't you?
Can you hear my voice among the groans of all those creatures underfoot
when you bend low, won't you?
Do you even know, do you even know the power you wield
like a hammer of Thor?
You're a god among men! Why don't you care anymore?
Oh—oh! You spite me just to smite me
and my bedroom is just a cave
where the prophet is left babbling—
only fools come to visit,
out of morbid curiosity,
or hope of reciprocity hope,
nope, nope, nope!
I've lost all velocity, vivacity, veracity, and philosophy--
A blackness moves across the air!
Roll the stone back o'er my grave—
I want to stay dead!
You're not brave.
Eloi, Eloi! Lama Sambachthani!
Ah, ah! My god, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Ooh! . . Ooh. . . Om.
Track Name: Running
by Karen Kunkel

I’ve dreamed about being many a man’s bride,
But never seemed to be satisfied,
I swear that it’s not lack for love nor care,
It’s just that I can’t stay anywhere—
For I’ve got more to see!
And I’ve got more to do.
And I will keep on running until I’m through.
At times I cannot move fast enough to keep up
With my breath, to keep up with my love.
And the days shoot by like flakes of snow,
Drive my hearse faster—
blow! blow upon blow—
And the scenery flies, all the colors a-blur
Like I am a train, I’m a top all a-whir!
I keep on running—I might stop for a rose,
Or until I am blind and I bleed from the nose.
Hey! Do you see me? Hey! I saw you!
Hey! Do you love me? I dare you to move.
No one is big enough to block my escape,
And no one is weird enough to get me to stay.
I test every new tie for tension and girth,
But I’m away like a rocket when I’ve gathered my worth!
Hey! Do you want me? I thought I wanted you.
But nothing can stop me—What do I do?
In love with the strange something new—
Far easier going than growing my roots—
Afraid to miss out on any hidden truth,
Any good time, any new rhyme—
the newness will kill me—I’m running sublime!
I’m always running—
Out of time—
Out, out, out, out of my mind!
Oh! Here I go again. . . .
Track Name: Rising (an improv)
by Karen Kunkel

All of the gods that I have invented including men that I have deified they have shown me the way to lose my sight exemplifying how illusions will dissipate and the best thing of all: how hearts will break and demons will call. Tell me what you see upon the waking of your morn. Tell me what you hear when dawn blows his horn. Silent blue. You can feel, you can feel a melody wrapping it's arms around you. You can feel, you can taste eternal life on the frost. And you can make any kind of love that the moment calls for. You can taste it, you can feel it, you can rise, rise to the occasion. You shall rise like smoke, like wings, like hair on the back of neck you shall rise. You shall rise, just let yourself rise, let yourself rise, let yourself be. yourself.