09 October 2015

Music Day - Dig Here, Revisited

This Music Day will have a slightly different feel to it.
I featured this album once before, upon its release in June 2013. At that time in my life, I had just been accepted to college and I was in a whirlwind of terror as I realised my life was about to change very drastically (little did I know...). I had been a Daniel Amos fan for all of four months.

I liked the album quite a lot when it first came out. As a writer with a literary/poetic bent, I fell deeply in love with nearly every lyric. Terry Taylor has been writing songs professionally for over a quarter century and his ability to turn a phrase, paint a mental image, and/or juxtapose two concepts for maximum irony is very finely honed.

Even the musical backdrops captured my imagination. At that point in my life, I listened to music almost exclusively for the lyrics. If you had tried to get me into a song based on a 'really sweet guitar solo' or an 'awesome' chord progression in the bridge, well... not going to happen. I really didn't care about the music as long as it generally sounded cool as a whole. Of course, two years in a college music program has since utterly reformed the way I listen to songs, but even at the time I loved the music of this album. It was rich, it was lush, it was full-bodied, it was part Dr. Seuss, part brooding Van Gogh, part rock band, part orchestra.

Fast forward two years. Well, two and a half. A lot has happened... my beloved rattletrap gave up the ghost, I graduated from college with not only an Associate of Arts in music, but a lead role in a stage musical under my belt, I lost an aunt, an uncle, a cousin, and two good friends to death of various kinds. For the first time in my life, I have truly known heartache. Depression is one thing, heartache is another. They are intertwined, but I'm not sure they're quite the same thing.

Today I listened to this album for the first time since all those deaths. Different things catch my attention now, and other things that hit me before hit harder now. I had already noticed (how could anyone not?) that this album explores the topic of death quite a lot. On the brink of leaving my family for college two years ago, I thought I knew what that was -- the end of my old life of being surrounded by family, the end of free time. And although I'm back in Alberta with my family now, in a way I was right. Nothing is the same now as it was then, and it never will be.

To hear these lyrics again in this new reality that I can't get away from, this reality that half my family is essentially dead, hits a tender spot I walled off the night my mother texted me that my uncle left his wife:

You left me ruined on the inside
Taught me love's a wrecking crew...

I need to dream again...

So why should we take his big bitter pill
And wash it down with a bucket of our tears?

You hide Yourself away somewhere behind a thundercloud...

My heartbeat is the pounding of Your iron hand breaking me...

In my head
Here it comes
Ruthless hum of dread...

And the spot that still flames red with anger and pain from the night I begged God for a miracle and received only cold static in reply:

We were anxious for our prayers to be answered
But our angels were distracted and so slow...

The same rock that we stood on crushed us...

I've never been more alive
Now that I've died...

Another bad guy wins
More good friends die
They mounted up like eagles
Now they're dropping like flies...

In a pauper's field of dreams
I'm walking in between open-mouthed graves
Anxious to be fed...

Listening to this album today brought me a comfort that has eluded me for a year. It didn't fix anything -- my family is still in shambles. It was a temporary comfort. But there's that... I don't know, camaraderie? that comes from hearing your pain in words that someone else penned. It makes you feel not quite as alone.

Album: Dig Here Said The Angel
Artist: Daniel Amos
Year: 2013
Label: Independent release (Kickstarter-funded)
iTunes here; buy the CD from the band here. Buy the vinyl from the band here.
Lyrics for the album here (click on the song titles).


Ron Easton for Dads UnLimited said...

I love your mature summary paragraph. I'm sorry the years have been hard. I love this album. It was written by old guys for old guys I think. But it was written for anyone, like Job, who knows the crushing hand of God's grace.

Sarah-Kate said...

Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Yeah, I do feel a bit young for this album, but then at least I get to grow into it. Hopefully that means I'll never really tire of it.