Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
As much as we'd all like to brush our errors in relationship management away to happenstance and the luck of the draw, the honest to goodness truth of the matter is that we almost absolutely choose those who we make our follies with. We hand-select the people that we find to do the least amount of good for us. It never starts out that way, but too many of them fall apart with as little grace as they've ever had, as little as they were ever going to get. They blow up - splattering all over the walls and hands and cheeks and everyone retreats to their former corners.
Mostly, there's that feeling of failure, a sense of shame - as if everyone involved should have seen it coming from a mile or a county away - and still, what seeps into the memories are the wishy-washy formulations of bliss that couldn't have been around long, but when they were, they were strong and passionate. These are the memories that get latched onto and dragged into an embrace. They're held up as examples that all was not lost. After enough time, what happens is that they've monopolized all remembrance and suddenly, these people are seeking to rekindle everything they used to have together because they're no better off now than they used to be.
Lindi Ortega, a Canadian now based in Tennessee, writes these kinds of stories - ones where you anticipate the trainwreck before it happens, cringing as these two people move closer and closer together. She has that perfect way of blurring the line between tragedy and dreaminess that's really just a form of selective memory in the cases of these characters who should know better. They've been to dozens and dozens of these rodeos and they've been violently tossed off the bull's back every time, helped to safety by the clowns.
Ortega tends to get points for a kinship to Dolly Parton's sound, but she's quite a bit rougher around the edges, singing lovingly about her demons and wishing for some whiskey and weed to get her by. Her songs give off the fumes of the sweet corn mash, fermenting in the barrel, but remind us what the final product could, and most likely, will result in. She sings, "I'm gonna put up one helluva fight, so the demons don't get me down." The demons and memories filed and then chased are crafty though. You're never out of the woods.