A classical pianist and composer from Louisville, Kentucky, Rachel Grimes was a member of American indie post-rock and chamber music group Rachel’s for the best part of twenty years (1991-2011) before embarking on various other projects. The pianist released Book of Leaves, her first solo album in 2009 and is currently playing with King’s Daughters and Sons, another band from the Louisville scene. A delightful piece of music written for a small chamber ensemble (piano, harp, clarinet, oboe, 2 violins, viola, cello and bass), “Earthly Heaven” was released in 2011.
The track is part of a suite commissioned in 2010 for the soundtrack of a silent film. Dating back to 1938, “Our day” is an amateur short by Wallace Kelly documenting a typical day in the home of the Kelly family of Lebanon, KY. The film comes from Amateur Night, a collection of regional home movies from the American film archives.
Wallace Kelly’s amateur cast was made up of his mother, wife, brother, and pet terrier. The film documents a modern home inhabited by adults with sophisticated interests and simple pleasures and contains exceptional images of small-town Southern life, ones that counter the stereotype of impoverished people eking out a living during the Depression.
The middle track “Earthly Heaven” (starting at 7’20’’) takes its name from one of the title cards in the short when Wallace Kelly’s mother is in her garden and which reads :“Her idea of Earthly Heaven: that all of every day could be spent like this!”.
Discussing the creative process for composing her solo album Book of Leaves, Rachel Grimes remarked:
I usually have specific images and emotions that I am working with on individual pieces […] I was also looking at the idea of past lives and their present influence, both people we have known or are related to, and those who have shaped our world through their decisions and work. Louisville Music News
A nostalgic home movie such as “Our Day” hence became a fertile source of inspiration for the musician. The three pieces Rachel Grimes wrote for the 17mn short were released in 2011 as the Marion County 1938 DVD/EP.