Hunger For The Shadows
I've been crawling into the catacombs of old Country music for some time now, and I don't see that trend ending anytime soon. Yeah, there are some obvious family ties and old world connections that draw me into that open-plained, mysterious realm, but I think the main reason why I love these tunes is the complete willingness to tackle sadness and struggle head on. I picked up Kris Kristofferson's Border Lord for 5 shekels in my neighbour town of Merrickville the other day, as my friend Tony Arsenault chatted very cordially with me from behind the cash counter. I don't see that guy often, but Tony always has some positivity and a genuine smile to share. He has always been that way - even since he was a visor-wearing, young kid in my cabin at IAWAH with a penchant for Drama.
What an album BL is - I mean, everything I know about KK has always been fairly complimentary, but wow. This record is blowing my mind. Recurring themes of shadows and forgotten characters. The sadness. The intrigue. The honesty. And the artwork. A song like 'Somebody Nobody Knows' sets you back in your steps with lines like -
Alone in a barroom a young girl is sitting
And smiling at nothing at all
And she stares now and then at the eyes of the men
In the mirror that hangs on the wall
She's waiting for someone and knowing there's no one
Who cares if she comes or she goes
Just a soul in the shadows the world never sees
She's somebody nobody knows
Someone no one's ever known
Crying where no one can hear
Somebody's dying aloneIn a city where nobody cares
You can't help but be drawn in, because the cover and a song like that make you realize something:
Those eyes have seen things.
The more and more I live, and the more air I draw into my lungs, I see suffering in this world. Pain. Agony. Depression. Loneliness. Young Death. It's apparent and it's an obvious undercurrent beneath the streets of our busy lives - like the evil slime in Ghostbusters 2. We all sort of know it's there, but we draw away from it. We jerk the wheel, and pull on to the side street to try and avoid it, but the main drag is still ready for our weary tires. I just found out news from a friend, who I used to spend a fair amount of time with - and that news is that his wife has ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed with it at the ripe age of 26. Twenty fucking Six. God. I saw a picture of her online beside him, and she looked so different, and so frail, and I felt so sick inside. So helpless.
What do we do with that? What does he do? What do they do?
And I get worried when I don't swallow my food properly. Or when my right hand takes a little bit longer to get warm than my left hand. Fuck. This life is so fleeting, and if we don't make every moment count, and take stock of what we have, and count the reasons why we are lucky and blessed, we are going to get trampled by the bull rush when the suffering comes. We will look around at every potential opportunity with a glass half-empty attitude, and we will wonder why we don't have more. We will pour out our unguided, misdirected hatred on to others without looking inward first.
I'm going to try to live out what I can while I can. Celebrate more. Pray more. Laugh more. And let the sadness come when it comes, and just be there for those who I love.
I wish the same for you, friends. Count your blessings. Suffer along those who suffer. Laugh when laughter is needed, and cry when crying is accepted.