Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Josh Niles at The Chapel, Nashville, Tennessee
It takes forever for anything to really firm itself up. For years and years and years, we're constantly attempting to get our affairs in order, only to watch them all take woeful and unforeseen turns in squirrely directions, helicoptering down to their tiny crash landings, like bloody whirligigs. We're at the mercy of nearly everything and everyone, when we're first starting to get our hands dirty and our hearts torn.
Some things never change, but for the luckiest of the sad lot, they get better. You start to feel more confident in the person that you've arbitrarily turned to for love and affection, though you're quite certain that it was the fates that put you together and it's what's kept you putting up with so much for so long. There's that uncomfortable responsibility that's felt, when you believe that you two were introduced or thrust together for a reason. It does happen that you can get to that point where you're not worrying about who they're loving when you're gone, as Nashville's Kelsey Waldon sings about here. You can start to be sure that the answer's no one, that there is no other person that they're wanting to love more than they want to love you. It's like pulling teeth to get people to finally comes to terms with that simple thought and then admit it. Waldon sings about these matters with the ease of someone who has already been through it all, who has been burned by those fires so many times that they no longer seem so hot to the touch. She sings, in a very Tennessee way, about the many things that people are always tricked into thinking that they need, but the pursuit of them just leads to dark and lonely places.
The characters that Waldon spends her time with don't want anything fancy. They just want to be good people. They'd like to give and receive their fair shares of love. They'd like to be able to pay their bills and worry little. They're confident that they'll be fine and that they won't need to worry much about dark clouds, but they're not so green to think that they'll be abused here and there by hard luck and touch scrabbles. They will be knocked down, but they'll get along just fine. They're just going to need time and mercy.
*Essay originally published February, 2013