Wednesday, July 15, 2015

To All Mothers of Rebellious Children

In my high school years I was really into Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. For my seventeenth birthday I got a big silver book of Dylan's lyrics and later a smaller book of Springsteen's, and I soon found that their lyrics were complimented by alcohol. I spent many a night back then drinking whiskey out of a dixie cup in my bedroom, the crickets chirping outside my screen window, mesmerized by the lines of All Along the Watchtower and Thunder Road. As college came and went I slowly lost touch with those books and those lyrics, like I lost touch with a lot of things as my drinking progressed over the years.

 It was 2013 when I discovered Jason Isbell's album "Southeastern," an album on which Isbell reflects on his newfound sobriety, right around the time I was getting sober myself. I had known Isbell as a guitarist and vocalist for the band Drive By Truckers back in college, but those were different days. Some nights, when I catch myself studying the lyrics to some Isbell song on my phone or on my laptop, it feels like deja vu going back to those nights in high school; I feel young again.

Nine to Five

- banksy

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Current Favorite Writer: Timothy Showalter

Heavy on the song lyrics lately. Doing lots of writing.

Black boots black jeans black beard
Walking down the street in the morning air
Then I lit up a cigarette and put my headphones on
And I listened to Van Etten sing
You gotta give out, give up, give out, give up, give out, give up, give in, give out, give up, give in
Give in, give in, give in, I was better than I felt in years
Then I looked to the streets and I looked to my fears
I know something was going round these tears
I was hurting people, so close to me
I spent those long years feeling so fucking bad

Take it even further back to darker times
When I drank too much and I took too much I lied to all my friends about who I was
But Caitlin listen to me now I'm all grown up
I spent two long years just losing my mind
Thank you Kristian for keeping me clean
And we're painted like the warriors. . .
You gotta heal. . .

- Strand of Oaks, "Heal"

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Independence Day

I was an Indiana kid, gettin' no one in my bed
I had your sweet tunes to play
I was staring at the map, feeling fire in my head
I had your sweet tunes to play
I was mean to my dad, cause I was mean to myself
I had your sweet tunes to play
Stealing smokes in my car, with the windows way down
I had your sweet tunes to play, your sweet tunes to play

I was sittin' in the bath, cleaning off the ash
But I had your sweet tunes to play
And I hated all my friends, I wouldn't let them in
I had your sweet tunes to play
On a long desert train, and a knife in my bag
I had your sweet tunes to play
Under the Market Street Bridge, burning one in my hand
I had your sweet tunes to play
Your sweet tunes to play

I'm getting older every day, still living the same mistakes
I got your sweet tunes to play
Your sweet tunes to play

- Strand of Oaks, "JM"

John Mellencamp.
Neil Young.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Isbell is God

Guess I'm doin' what I'm on this earth to do
And I don't think on why I'm here or where it hurts
I'm just lucky to have the work

And every night I dream I'm drownin' in this dirt
But I thank God for the work

And the day will come that I'll find a reason
Somebody proud to love a man like me
My back is numb and my hands are freezing
But what I'm working for is something more than free

- Something More Than Free

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

If You Build It, He Will Come

"I came to Iowa to study, one of the thousands of faceless students who pass through large universities, but I fell in love with the state. Fell in love with the land, the people, the sky, the cornfields, and Annie. For years, I bathed each morning, frosted my cheeks with Aqua Velva, donned a three-piece suit and snap-brim hat, and, feeling like Superman emerging from a telephone booth, set forth to save the world from a lack of life insurance. I loathed the job so much that I did it quickly, urgently, almost violently. It was Annie who got me to rent the farm. It was Annie who got me by. 

The year after Annie and I were married, the first year we rented this farm, I dug Annie's garden for her; dug it by hand, stepping a spade into the soft black soil, ruining my salesman's hands. After I finished, it rained, an Iowa spring rain as soft as spray from a warm hose. The clods of earth I had dug seemed to melt until the garden leveled out, looking like a patch of black ocean. It was near noon on a gentle Sunday when I walked out to that garden. The soil was soft and my shoes disappeared as I plodded until I was near the center. There I knelt, the soil cool on my knees. I looked up at the low gray sky; the rain had stopped and the only sound was the surrounding trees dripping fragrantly. Suddenly I thrust my hands wrist-deep into the snuffy-black earth. The air was pure. All around me the clean smell of earth and water. Keeping my hands buried I stirred the earth with my fingers and I knew I loved Iowa as much as a man could love a piece of earth."

- W.P. Kinsella, Shoeless Joe

Here's to women who support childish dreams, be it building a baseball field in the cornfields of Iowa or attempting to write a novel. Here's to women who won't let you settle for a salesman's job, even it means throwing all caution to the wind. Here's to my Annie. 

Monday, June 8, 2015


Sunday afternoon found me at my cousin Frank's condo in Farmington, checking in on his cat. Outside the sliding glass door, a late Spring thunderstorm raged in the darkening sky. I sprawled out on Frank's living room carpet next to the fire place, put on his Nirvana Unplugged in New York record, and drifted off with the storm clouds for a little while. Kurt Cobain's live performance in New York that night is considered one of his most haunting and one of his best, and it is a testimony to Cobain's spirit that when he gave that performance that night, he did so while going through the utter torture of heroin withdrawal. I listened to Cobain's voice, and, like reading Kerouac on a winter night, it felt good to remember that I wasn't the only one who saw the world through sad eyes sometimes.