“No matter how dark the storm gets overhead…”
Somewhere between the peak-self-involvement of my early twenties and losing myself in some desperate search for direction and stability, I found you.
“Help does not just walk up to you…”
But you did…your album appeared in my hands, forced a pause, bowed my head and emptied my lungs so i could breathe again with purpose and intention. My hands moved like your hands, my head rocked to your great lake waves and rust belt beats. I saw my hometown in your songs the way people would see my late mother in my face as I aged. Familiar tones and undeniable relationship droned on and on. Your journey became our journey and we walked hand in hand.
“Think about what’s darkening my life…”
I explored your back catalog and thought I knew how dark it could get. I saw you play these songs for a few dozen folks and then disappear out back with that bottle you had before the show. I followed your next albums, you grew, you changed, and i held you even closer for those facts. I always came back to that black and white collection of songs, though, the origin of “us.”
“When i die, put my bones in an empty street…”
It’s been three years now. I tried to write this on the anniversary of your demise, but i couldn’t handle the grief. I realized then that this has to end. I can’t hang on to the past. You left, Jason. I found you. I came to you. I followed and listened and both your words and your chords carried me over the biggest life changes i ever made – BUT YOU LEFT.
“Paralyzed by the emptiness…”
Grief doesn’t fill the space. Special edition anniversary vinyl doesn’t either. My hands move like your hands, I play your chords and hear your words in my head, but this will not sustain us. It’s time for me to move on. Yes, I know you weren’t well. Yes, I know your journey was your journey and mine was mine – but we started out so close and crossed paths at such an important time. You never sounded the same. I left so much behind. You slowly unraveled. I put myself back together. The monument of “Didn’t it Rain” still stands in black and white on my shelf, waiting to be played yet again.
“I will help you try to beat it…”
I tried that bottle. My hands moved like your hands. I played your chords and used your words. I took a drink and tried the songs again. I wanted to understand your addiction and emptiness but only found my own. I took a drink and played the songs again. I looked for you in every minor keyed strum. I took a drink again.
“Don’t write my name on a stone…”
My journey is mine and your journey has ended. It’s time we had some space. The record is going back on the shelf. I don’t live in your rust belt anymore and i haven’t for some time now. I raise my drink to you, though. Cheers, and goodbye, old friend.