Friday, August 17, 2007

Lyrics of the Day

I finally got around to listening to Jason Isbell's debut solo CD Sirens of the Ditch last night. Isbell was a member of the Drive-By Truckers for six years and three albums but left the band a few months ago. The songs he wrote for the Truckers were exceptional, and his bandmates knew all along that he was destined to strike out on his own. Like Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley (the Truckers' other songwriters), Isbell is an excellent storyteller who injects details of Southern culture into his lyrics.

Anyway, for the last few months that Isbell toured with the Drive-By Truckers, I kept reading praise for a new song he was performing called "Dress Blues." It's about Matthew Conley, a Marine from his hometown who was killed in Iraq. He didn't know Conley well, but such tragedies hit hard regardless (a bicyclist I met only once was run over by a semi, and years later I still think about him).
Your wife said this all would be funny
when you came back home in a week.
You'd turn twenty-two and we'd celebrate you
in a bar or a tent by the creek.
Your baby would just about be here.
Your very last tour would be up
but you won't be back. They're all dressing in black
drinking sweet tea in styrofoam cups.

Mamas and grandmamas love you.
American boys hate to lose.
You never planned on the bombs in the sand
or sleeping in your dress blues.
I can't say the whole CD measures up to that, but how could it?

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