Jason Isbell, lyrics that slay me & a little help, please

As I type Nolan is upstairs sleeping, Liam may or may not be napping on the chair. I can’t see his entire body. What I do know is he has stopped sighing dramatically about how bored he is. It’s been a good five or six minutes since the wail of protest went up regarding how I “all the time have to listen to music.”

I’d have taken his protests a little more seriously if he had said something like “Enough with this Jason Isbell record you are ruining me beyond repair with all this sex, drugs, alcohol, and sadness.” Because, frankly, I am a little worried about that “which came first the music or the misery?” What if the music came first and I’m wrecking him?

At least he’s being wrecked by something good and not the crap pop-country bullshit his mom listens to, right? Of course.

Ever since I finished the first draft of The Beast, I’ve been pretty much listening to Jason Isbell’s “Southeastern” nonstop. I know it came out a few months ago, but while I was writing I had to listen to a lot of woman-made rock & roll. As soon I finished I gobbled up that Isbell record and I haven’t really stopped (except for the occasional three-spin dalliance with Neko Case’s new song “Man”).

This record is so good that I don’t even have the words for how good it is. The storytelling via lyrics is just amazing. Isbell conveys so much in so little that I’m astounded. One of my favorite is from the song “Elephant,” We drink these drinks and laugh out loud, bitch about the weekend crowd, and try to ignore the elephant somehow.

But my favorite on the album is this line from “Different Days,” Jesus loves a sinner, but the highway loves a sin.

Now comes the help. As you may (or may not) know, The Beast is about a singer who is writing liner notes for her Greatest Hits album. This means that I have to invent song lyrics. As you can imagine, it’s daunting as fuck. I know jack about writing song lyrics. however, I know jack about writing a novel too and that seems to be going okay.

So here’s what I want to know from you, darling ones, what are the lyrics that really slay you? The ones that make you laugh or cut right to your bone. The ones that make you stop in your tracks and make your heart beat goofy?

I could probably list about 1,000 ones that slay me, and at some point I probably will because I’m off & on working on a “100 Favorite Songs” project my friend Steve inspired.

So what say ye? What lyrics do you love?

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  1. M-----l 22.Jul.13 at 10:24 am

    The only lyrics that have slayed me this year belong to Josh Ritter’s “New Lover”, a song off The Beast in Its Tracks. The last line, in particular, caught me by surprise and made me want to play the song over and over again. There’s a video that shows all the lyrics being typed out on a typewriter.

    1. Jodi 22.Jul.13 at 1:01 pm

      That last line totally makes the song! As I was watching the video I kept say, “Oh Josh you are protesting too much” and then he pulled it out in the end.

      This is one of those lyrics that in context is brilliant, but on it’s own is kind of blah, you know? You need the story that comes before to see the brilliance.

      1. M-----l 22.Jul.13 at 2:54 pm

        I agree with you on context. I thought it would be more effective for you to experience the song in its entirety. Quoting the last line without the rest of the song would be like trying to get laughs by telling nothing but a joke’s punchline.

  2. Hotrod 22.Jul.13 at 11:32 am

    I got my first real six-string….

    1. Jodi 22.Jul.13 at 1:01 pm

      You are the worst.

  3. Bonny Holder 22.Jul.13 at 1:09 pm

    I lost 10 points just for bein’ in the right place at exactly the wrong time.
    — Gene Clark

    Finally, she began to believe in me
    to see that her heart could heal
    to smile in her sleep, to laugh real deep
    to finally be free of the Faithless One…
    — I have no idea who wrote this, I wish I did


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