Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
It's a staggering thing to think about how far Chris Carrabba's words have taken him over the years, what they've done for him, how much they've been there for the guy in his times of need, and his times of want. We're not talking professionally, but in a purely personal, one-on-one relationship way, before he was the famous guy behind Dashboard Confessional and, really, still up to this day. Some of the very intense and private feelings that he composed into his bloody, aching lyrics won him girls, convinced girls that they should return to him and probably helped mend his eternally broken heart more times than we'd ever like to imagine. He's lived his hurts out here in the open, chest wide open, for years and years and years. These words that he began singing in front of people - emoting at high and expressive volumes - these words that he bellowed, on the brink of passing out or of crying, falling into an exhausted heap right there in front of all of these strangers, have been his accomplices for longer than he can remember now and they've been good for him. They have been his salve, his remedy, for all those nights and times that have approached his weakened state like razor blades. They have sword fought those knives and those pains to a point where the hurting could be dulled down to where it was almost tolerable.
We're positive that Carrabba has sought out the medicinal value of songwriting, but also consider how many young ladies and young men have co-opted his lines to woo others, to chew on as they themselves try to work out of a mope? He's been responsible for a lot of tattoos and love notes - words assumed as another's own to say what they feel better than they ever could have on their own. It speaks to the young and tender heart and it always will. While Carrabba was touring this winter, performing the entirety of his debut album, "Swiss Army Romance," solo, the way he originally toured it, he stopped by Big Orange and did something that so many have been doing with his words since he started making them public. He offered a few of his own creations, but otherwise expressed himself via the writings of people like Cory Branan and the alive again Archers of Loaf. He seemed to find in them those kindred ties that, when soaked in, could become his own feelings. It's what we all do and it's how his words became so many inscriptions and tattoos. He takes Eric Bachmann's words on "Web In Front" -- "You're not the one who let me down/But thanks for offering/It's not a voice and I'm not around/But thanks for picking it/Up, on the radio/Sampled your rust from a faucet, I know/I've got a magnet in my head/A magnet in my head/Extra thick, extra long, the way it was wasted/And there's a chance that things'll get weird/Yeah, that's a possibility/Although I didn't do anything/No, I didn't do anything/All I ever wanted…/All I ever wanted was to be your spine" - and places them right at his center, where his dizzy pain is coming from this time. When Branan wrote, "Stretch out in the tall green grass/Only green against the blue/It's only me against you/And the man who said dreams don't last/Never slept in the tall green grass," on "Tall Green Grass," he must have identified his own optimism in those words. Those words, along with most of Carrabba's, have been known to change spirits - not immediately, but eventually.