The Pale Fire of John Shade

by lydiasee

This wonderful creature is moving to NY in a few weeks, and I was fortunate enough to shoot him once more at his soon to be former apartment a few nights ago:


Here’s a piece I wrote about John Shade a while ago, after hearing his new record and seeing him live at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge on April 14th.

John Shade is a fictional Poet in Vladamir Nabakov’s 1962 novel, Pale Fire, whose work highlights a preoccupation with life and death and a nearly obsessive fascination with the human senses. John Shade is also the pseudonym of Dave Godowsky, a prolific and melancholy songwriter seemingly fascinated with much of the same.

Godowsky, who currently works at Rounder Records, recorded All You Love is Need, his debut album, in late 2009 at Justin Vernon’s (Bon Iver) Wisconsin studio, April Base. Godowsky then began the process of re-recording many of his songs and playing live with the Neave String Quartet, creating a dichotomy between the original album and it’s new incarnation: a complete re-recording of the Album with the quartet, which is now being released song-by-song on his website.

John Shade rides the line between a sad waltz and a sweet lullaby on much of this record. The opening and closing songs on Need, “Lullaby” and “So Long, Theresa,” respectively, act as parenthesis between which the widest range of woebegone interludes, one-sentence-novels and blue notes intersect. “I Fall in Love Too Easily,” which clocks in at nearly a minute says everything about mistaken and impetuous affection in fifty seconds, while the seemingly bleak “I Hate the World (and Everyone in it)” is punctuated by an inspiring last line.

Reminiscent of Neil Young’s simple yet resonant storytelling with a few slices of Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters/Sun Kil Moon) and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (Will Oldham), the bittersweet Need demonstrates a great deal of potential in John Shade.

June 12th


To hear/download new version of “Here I am,” click through:

“Here I Am”
by John Shade

featuring the Neave Quartet and Zachariah Hickman


Stream All You Love is Need below, or download for free at :