Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
What lies at the center of every man is a different story. It can be a very simple one, without many tangents, without any need for extrapolation. It's just a mere narrative, but it remains as a personal narrative nonetheless. It's no greater or lesser than any other man's. It's cut and dried. For some men, such as those who make up the Arkansas group, Amasa Hines, there's little doubt that this isn't good enough. Or, rather, such a simple narrative would be insulting. It wouldn't be worth the spit and the blood and the hot breath spent on it daily and nightly, through the fog, through the arguments and through the deafening noise.
Scratch marks on the surface is not what they're after, but more so intensive excavation. They're about taking a knife, sterilizing it, making a cut and poking around a little and determining what all is attached to them, what all is dependent on them and who they couldn't feel more helpless being without. Love is a reason for most displays in Amasa Hines songs. Love is a special consequence that is not taken lightly. You can hear the unavoidable weight of the concept and reality of family here. You hear what it is to be devastated by the true magnitude of what it means to have either brought life into this world or to watch as it dwindle down to nothing, or to be taken away altogether.
"Coltrane" is a song that sends shivers through a body as it seems to be sung by a father to a son - likely one that's thus far unable to grasp anything importance of what this all means. Joshua, the lead singer of the group (who goes strictly by his first name) sings, "Well, I am that I am by the grace of God," in the first line and it leads you to think about how easy that seems. Then he continues on, with the song getting more and more specific, straddling the line between what could be religious undertones and those directed at the family that he's raising, singing, "Oh, my son, oh my love, oh my love, oh my love," promising to live a life that would make him proud and wishing that he could make everything painless. It's a hopeless request - the ability to provide nothing but protection and enduring health and happiness - but it's one that should be made. There's something important and powerful, something deeply felt, rolling through each second of an Amasa Hines song, with Joshua reminding us, "There's always something to get over/Always a reason to cry."