BENDRIX LITTLETON “Deep Dark South” (NNA Tapes)


Bendrix Littleton is Bennett Littlejohn’s recording moniker. If you’re giving me a double-taked “Huh?!” and wondering how I’m going to keep that straight as I’m writing this, you’re not crazy for doing either of those things. In fact, we’re told that Bendrix Littleton is somewhat of an unreliable narrator, whose name derives from Maurice Bendrix, a character in Graham Greene’s novel The End of the Affair, which makes this whole thing even harder on anybody trying to make any sense of it. Plus, now I’ve got three names to keep straight? Please.
So what kind of dude was Maurice Bendrix, and what can we expect from Bendrix Littleton? Maurice sounds like kind of a shithead, “consumed by jealousy, self-pity, self-hatred, and bitterness” – so maybe a self-directed shithead, but I’m not really sure I want to spend a lot of time with someone like that. Where Bendrix Littleton comes in on that spectrum is in his depiction of the endlessly stretching biographies of Deep Dark South residents crushed by economic disparity and ennui. Residents of the Deep Dark South are notoriously unreliable sources of information in real life (trust me), so we, as listeners, are equally crushed by the disappointment inherent in their lives, manifesting in a false, fragrant hope that barely conceals the rank spiraling to oblivion those lives are on. The trajectory is manifest through the transparent lies.
So it’s no surprise that Bendrix Littleton can barely manage to raise his voice above a whisper, with his acoustic guitar and studio accoutrements successfully propping it up, but only just. There’s a heavy, heavy weight on Littleton’s soul, and he struggles to relate the stories of the people he’s come across, stories of who he was and who he’s terrified of becoming, and stories of fleeting searchlights of hope in a dense haze of humid misery. Coupled with the homespun charm of the four-tracky sonics and you’re rewarded with a heartbreaking document of real, actual life. Turns out it doesn’t matter if the storyteller is reliable or not, or even if the narration is an outright lie – we can still all learn something from it, we can teach ourselves to feel again, for us, for those around us. Fuck, I’m sad now.