Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Patrick Stolley
There is a story that Christopher Denny's friend tells about the young Arkansas songwriter that probably only affected the lad on a subconscious level and yet it may have been as oddly life-changing as it was told to have been. He'd seen Denny playing live numerous times, always wowing with that voice that is enriched with the ghost of Roy Orbison and the ghosts that Bob Dylan dances and co-writes with, but never working out the performance aspect that should go along with sounds. Here was a guy who had been touched by that dust, the gold stuff that is potent and scarce, and he wasn't the part.
He was a vector, just an agent of this miraculous talent, living with his words when he wanted to, when they came to him at the fishing hole or when the room hung thick with cigarette smoke, but not in front of the people that they were being played to. All of this changed with Denny went and got inked up with tattoos for all to see, said his buddy. Like a light switch, he was a man, a REAL man who embodied all of the heartbroken, tears in beers songs that he wrote into the forms of modern day classics before they had time to catch their breaths or to wipe the birth gook off of their little song bodies. At a Hot Freaks party during the South By Southwest Festival, Denny had his favorite short-brimmed hat (one Keith Richards and Johnny Depp would applaud him for) on, jean shorts that had been sloppily converted from their former state and boots that I believe are called frog stompers where he's from - and he was raring. Everything did match. He looked like the Tom Sawyer figure that he was cut out to be, one that could have easily been seen with a twig of straw hanging out of the corner of his mouth, but with a set of pipes and a writer's intuition that soon enough will be recognized as timeless. He's always been that boy from the country - humble and polite - but he now had a little bit of the visible snake bite that could serve as proof that these things had really happened to him - that love had been a cruel swordsman, brandishes and stabbing without warning and often times from out of the blind spot. He took on that appearance of a man who had been violently wronged by a woman - a creature that pretends to be meek and lovely, to be helpless and caring only to strike venomously to paralyze and disable whenever the breeze blew her way wrongly. He probably kicked something hard, probably cursed a lot, probably moped a little bit and then he probably got around to missing her, just as if she'd never done anything objectionable to him. It's how those women hit us like toms, beat us into believing that they could never, would never harm the way that they've already done or that they - as a gender - have been reputed to do with malice, cold and calculated and unsuspecting.
What better things to get all burnt up inside about than the whimsies of women - the black hearts of them when they're wearing all white - and their ability to circle back around, rally the pulse again, get men to believe that they've changed enough to let them back in only to find new ways to perform the same old trick. Denny makes sure to get across on Age Old Hunger that he's always willing to stick his neck out for love, that he's always willing to try it on for size. He's never found love or the tenderness of it to be deplorable. Some things are just what they are maybe. Some things need to be tart and so teeth-breakingly, chokingly sweet to be what they really are and Denny couldn't be a better interpreter. He makes love feel like a raging wildfire, the Arctic Ocean, a sucker punch and a vaccine. He makes it feel like no matter the setbacks, no matter what the potential drawbacks could possibly be, you should cannonball right into the deep end. He makes it feel like you took a nasty spill on a gravel road and you're sitting along the ditch picking dusty rocks from your skin. He also makes it feel like this weird rebirth, the one that we've always longed for post-crisis. He will turn you cathartic if you allow it to happen.
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