Whether you know him as Peter of Great Blue, Handini of Goose or half of the mastermind behind the PA-RC clothing line, one thing is for certain — Peter Anspach is the master of all trades. Officially joining Goose in 2017, Peter has quickly become the heart and soul of the band. In the five years of being in Goose, Peter has not only written a number of songs for the band such as “White Lights,” “Honey Bee” and “Time to Flee,” but he has also contributed a number of Great Blue songs that have become staples in Goose’s live catalog such as “Yeti,” “Doc Brown” and “Pancakes.” Even Great Blue’s “Jeff Engborg” has been in rotation this year (who you can read all about in this issue of The el Goose Times.)
However, we must turn our attention to “Red Bird,” one of Goose’s newest Peter-led songs that is packed to the brim with uncompromising pathos. Debuting at the Regency Ballroom on Jan. 29, 2022, this song is not to be confused with a song called
“Red Bird” that was played by Goose in 2015 (good luck to whoever finds a solid copy of this recording. It’s been said that “Red Bird” was the original title for “A Western Sun”).
Since its debut, “Red Bird” has appeared an additional six times. At the time of writing this piece, the last appearance of “Red Bird” was at the Salvage Station in Asheville, NC, where the tune got the jam treatment and was followed by a stellar “726.”
What sets this apart from songs about unrequited love in Spanish class or a holiday-loving mythical creature is the emotionality behind the lyrics. At the center of the lyrics is one very special person: Rita Caruso — Peter’s mom.
Rita has been credited as a huge influence on Peter’s work on a number of instances. However, “Red Bird” is one of the first direct homages that thanks her for all of the love while also supporting her through another phase in her life. The tip-off that this song is about Rita comes in the song’s opening lines: “A red bird was singing/About another time/Softer than a daydream/On a summer night.”
If you’ve been reading along with this issue of The el Goose Times, you’ll know that Rita has a passion for singing, most recently serving as a teacher at Norwalk Community College, where she taught a course for educators on integrating music into the classroom. That passion for music was instilled in Peter at a very young age and is evident in this tune.
The first two verses of the song harken back to Peter’s past, ushering back to a time where his mom served as his serenity and protection. As with most motherly figures, we depend on them in our formative years to guide us and help mold us to who we will eventually become. In this case, Peter uses his mother’s affinity for music and storytelling as a guide.
By the time you get to the chorus, the emotion in Peter’s lyrics is incredibly palpable — every word is just as tangible as the last.
“Red bird don’t get tired now/You can almost touch the light/Red bird don’t stop singing your song/Fly for tomorrow tonight.”
Go and re-read that line again. I’ll wait.
Now think of the motherly figure in your life. This line is universal and is a great amalgamation of all the words we wish we could tell those “moms” in our lives. Especially as we get older, we become those guardians of serenity and protection for those motherly figures — keeping them safe as they get older and hoping to give back a fraction of that love that they gave us all those years ago.
By the time we’re wiping the tears from our eyes after the first chorus, we have another verse that brings Peter up to perhaps where his relationship with his mother was the most fragile.
“Sorry for the lies/sorry doesn’t do” says Peter as he begins the verse-long apology to his mom. This verse really shows a sense of maturity in him, in that he recognizes that maybe he wasn’t the best to his mom but he hopes to slowly make it up to her, even if “it’ll take more than a phone call to get her feeling fine.”
After another round at the chorus, we reach the final verse. This verse is the only one to solely feature Peter and his keyboard. It’s raw and powerful as Peter puts everything on table, ushering the lyrics: “And how does it feel/To take her from the sky/I pray you’re out there sleeping/When it’s time for a bird to fly.”
The song here has come full circle as we simultaneously arrive at the present and future. Peter realizes that he has taken on that guardian role that his mother provided from him as a child, and now, his words and stories will provide her comfort for days to come.
However, more important than any word I’ve written thus far, I think the best way to describe “Red Bird” is hearing it from Rita herself.
“It was quite a moment. He wrote it and played it for me — just his voice and an acoustic guitar. I couldn't even speak. I just listened to it on the phone and it was so beautiful,” Rita told The el Goose Times about the first time she heard “Red Bird.” “There were really no words to describe it. I think that was something he absolutely needed to do.”
We couldn’t agree more, Rita. We couldn’t agree more.
Note: We are not affiliated, associated with or in any way officially connected to Goose.
We just love the band and community that much.