Reiter In was recorded as a band featuring Chris Whitley & “The Bastard Club”: Heiko Schramm – bass guitar and backing vocals; Brian Geltner – drums, vibes, acoustic guitar, and backing vocals; Tim Beattie – harmonica, lap steel, and backing vocals; Kenny Siegal – baritone guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and backing vocals; Sean Balin – violin; Gwen Snyder – vocals and tambourine; and Susann Bürger – spoken word (not shown in the photo below).
Kenny Siegal (of Johnny Society) co-wrote a few of the original songs and produced the album, which was recorded all analog and live on a two-inch tape Sony MCI JH24 tape deck through a Trident board at Siegal’s Old Soul Studios in Catskill, New York. The album is available as both a CD and on vinyl; however, the 7″ vinyl release, limited to 1,000 pressings, is extremely rare.
Interesting Bits re Songs
Cut the Cards – The words spoken are a poem (“Inn”) by Pierre Reverdy:
Reiter In – ATCW group members decipher the ‘lyrics’:
The title track features Sussan Bürger’s translated spoken word reading of a German poem by an unknown author. The words speak to death with courage and resignation, acceptance, sorrow, and hope. The guitars simply walk behind her, carrying the weight of humanity into something beyond oblivion: “The rider is the ghost that leads the body/Its longings embody the journey of the soul/through the world/with all its temptations, obstacles, tests, rehearsals and proof of character/and its development toward perfection…” [from Thom Jurek’s review]
A post to the ATCW group inquired about the lyrics to “Reiter In,” sending several group members down a rabbit hole examining this song. Marco Jacobs provided some of the German lines:
“Als derjenige, der auf dem Pferd sitzt, ist der Reiter der Geist, der den Körper führt; sein Streben verkörpert die Reise der Seele durch die Welt mit ihren Versuchungen, Hindernissen, Proben, Prüfungen und Beweisen des Charakters und ihre Entwicklung zur Vollkommenheit. Der grüne Reiter ist entweder der Neugetaufte oder der Kandidat der Initiation, oder er verkörpert in Riesengestalt die Kräfte der Natur und manchmal auch den Tod.”
These translate into English as “As the one who sits on the horse, the rider is the spirit that guides the body; his striving embodies the soul’s journey through the world with its temptations, obstacles, tests, trials and proofs of character and its development to perfection. The green rider is either the newly baptized or the initiation candidate, or he embodies the forces of nature and sometimes death in giant form.”
I don’t speak German, but listening to the words I heard what I understand to be “white rider,” “black rider,” “red rider,” and “green rider” – these are the four horsemen of the apocalypse:
In John’s revelation, the first horseman is on a white horse, carrying a bow, and given a crown, riding forward as a figure of Conquest, perhaps invoking Pestilence, Christ, or the Antichrist. The second carries a sword and rides a red horse and is the creator of War. The third is a food merchant riding upon a black horse, symbolizing Famine. The fourth and final horse is pale green, and upon it rides Death accompanied by Hades. “They were given authority over a quarter of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and plague, and by means of the beasts of the earth. [from Wikipedia]
Jessie Rumsey further notes that “since “reiterin” (single word) is the feminine form of “reiter” my guess is there is at least some mild type of wordplay going on that we’re not picking up on… presumably the separation is deliberate, if only to emphasize that “rider(s) in” could easily be “female rider”.
Joe Brooks sees a similarity to portions of Hindu sacred treatises written in Sanskrit c. 800–200 BC, expounding the Vedas in predominantly mystical and monistic terms:
From a commentary on the Upanishads:
“..the chariot is the body, the horses are the five senses, the reins in the mouth of the horses is the mind, the charioteer is the intellect, and the passenger seated behind is the soul residing in the body. The senses (horses) desire pleasurable things. The mind (reins) is not exercising restraint on the senses (horses). The intellect (charioteer) submits to the pull of the reins (mind). So in the materially bound state, the bewildered soul does not direct the intellect in the proper direction. Thus, the senses decide the direction where the chariot will go. The soul experiences the pleasures of the senses vicariously, but these do not satisfy it. Seated on this chariot, the soul (passenger) is moving around in this material world since eternity.
However, if the soul wakes up to its higher nature and decides to take a proactive role, it can exercise the intellect in the proper direction. The intellect will then govern the lower self—the mind and the senses—and the chariot will move in the direction of eternal welfare. In this way, the higher self (soul) must be used to control the lower self (senses, mind, and, intellect).
from Parable of the individual soul in a chariot
3. Know thou the soul (ātman, self) as riding in a chariot. The body as the chariot. Know thou the intellect (buddhi) as the chariot-driver, And the mind (manas) as the reins.
4.The senses (indriya), they say, are the horses; The objects of sense, what they range over. The self combined with senses and mind Wise men call ‘the enjoyer’ (bhoktr).
5. He who has not understanding (a-vijñāna), Whose mind is not constantly held firm— His senses are uncontrolled, Like the vicious horses of a chariot-driver.
6. He, however, who has understanding, Whose mind is constantly held firm— His senses are under control, Like the good horses of a chariot-driver. Intelligent control of the soul’s chariot needed to arrive beyond transmigration
7. He, however, who has not understanding, Who is unmindful and ever impure, Reaches not the goal. But goes on to transmigration (saṁsāra).
Few reviews of Chris’s final effort exist; of those I could find, I highly recommend Collette’s, Peters’, and Jurek’s. Access all articles here.
I can find only two live performances of Reiter In songs – and they’re both Mountain Side (Flaming Lips cover). Interesting to note that one bootleg appears a couple months before Chris and the Bastards recorded it, and the other, a little more than a month after. Also sad to note how much stronger Chris’s voice was in the first than in the second.
Mountain Side at The Vanguard (Sydney, Australia) 2005-03-29:
Mountain Side at Cafe Du Nord (San Francisco, CA) 2005-07-24:
Chris was clearly fond of the Flaming Lips, having recommended their album In a Priest Driven Ambulance to Metter Bozze (Maarten Demetter) back in 1998:
A short clip of Chris and Heiko Schramm at Old Soul Studios:
A CNN/Paste review of the album: