My friend Carrie & I once had a discussion about which Jason Isbell song we could write a book (or maybe it was a short story) about. I think she chose “Outfit” or maybe it was “Dress Blues.” I can’t remember now. I do know that I answered “Alabama Pines” within a heartbeat.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say this is my favorite Jason Isbell song. Even more than “Cover Me Up,” which will come as a surprise to anyone whose listened to me blather on about how I think it’s one of the most romantic songs of all time and it gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it.
But damn. . . “Alabama Pines” is just one of those songs that clicks with me so deeply I find it hard to put words to it. But here I am, trying to do just that.
- First of all, I don’t know how you can hear that third line and not get a woof! gut punch feeling. Look at it: “I hardly even know my name anymore. When no one calls it out, it kinda vanishes away.”
- That line completely sums up what I feel like when I’m really down into the “lonely, spinster gonna die alone and nobody will even notice and now I don’t even have a cat to eat my face” dumps. But the lyrics says it much better than I ever have.
- Then he follows it up with this: “The A.C. hasn’t worked in twenty years. Probably never made a single person cold,
but I can’t say the same for me. I’ve done it many times.” Fuck, man. Fuck. What’s not to admire here?
- I like the idea of pine being a noun and a verb, “to yearn intensely and persistently especially for something unattainable” according to Merriam-Webster.
- If they had Emotional Olympics, I would be the world-record holder in pining. I pine like a motherfucker every damn day.
- So another reason I can’t stop listening to this song is that even though our Democracy is dying as I type, and The Turnip is destroying our government, I’m too self-involved to pay too much notice. I’ve got some emotional upheaval up in this joint and well, come on. . . that’s reason enough to listen to “Alabama Pines” on repeat until my heart falls out of my butt and my eyes float away. Right? RIGHT?
I thought you would agree.