Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Last night, I saw a man sing his songs, one of which was about waiting. He explained it beforehand, pointing out to the small gathering that we spend the greater part of our lives waiting for other things to happen. There's the waiting to be born, which is hard to conceptualize, but it must exist in some form. There's the waiting to find that one person to be with and the waiting to leave them. Then there's waiting to die. Waiting is prevalent, but it's hard to find it to be a drag, the way that Virginian songwriter Carl Anderson writes and sings about it. The waiting, for him, is the pearl, not the other way around. The treasure is the process, not that grain of sand needing time to gestate and mold itself into something finer. He sings, "I've come to know a quiet sort of yearning/In the way it moves so slow/While the world keeps on turning," and there's something about a part of these lines that he could appreciate on his gravestone, when that days comes many years from now. He sings many such lines though - ones that could be fingered as quintessential, as personally defining.
"Wolftown," Anderson's excellent debut album is filled with stories that all seem to share an appreciation of the patience that a man can harbor, even when there should be no way patience could be believed in. His is a sense that all good things come to those who wait, only sometimes those good things are still difficult to come by and sometimes all the wanting and all the patience in the world isn't going to do a man a lick of good. On "Cold Hands," Anderson sings, "I've been praying with cold hands/I hope you understand/Just another child of the lord I come to you a broken man." There's no telling what's going to come of that. It's like that more of those uphill battles are going to find him and that's all he'll be expecting - that and the leftover scraps. The hopefulness that contributes or buffers the waiting that's done in these songs is all for the possibility of some pretty arms to wrap around that guy. It's asking for some tenderness and there's a little hope left over for some self-betterment.
Anderson sings about wanting to be a "good, good man," adding, "You climb a ladder and you move real slow/You get to the top and you still don't know what it means/To love somebody." The insinuation here is to think that if you do all that, go through all that trouble, and you still don't know what it means to love somebody, you're in bad shape and you need more help than can be given. It could take more waiting, which wouldn't be the worst thing. Or, it could never come, and that - for these men that Anderson dines and drinks with, the ones that he introduces us to - is absolutely the worst thing.