Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
When you're listening to a Chatham County Line song, you can almost hear the rust eating through the side panels of the pickup trucks that everyone's driving, you can hear the exasperation in the voices of the men and women out there in that drought and you can hear the crops either growing strong or wilting in a gruesome dry heat, depending on the season that's happening. It's as if everyone's fortunes and the condition of their love is hanging in the balance, intertwined with the dirt and the humidity. The problems are many and yet, there's always been this sense that these people are going to get by, come hell or high water.
To make it all that much more interesting is that there's always that feeling that hell and high waters are on their way and they will pack the anticipated punches and pull out all the stops, before retreating into the background for the time being. There are all sorts of different ways that folks get beset with the weight of their own problems, but the only way that they've ever found to diminish them is to overestimate them, get worked up about them and then eventually see that they weren't as big and rough as they were originally thought to be. Or just give up. It's either that or a good ploy of indifference, while still acknowledging them. It's when the whiskey hits that's been proven to help calm the worries as well. It allows the frazzled to feel a little bit better about what they're working through.
Most of the time, Chatham County Line songs feel as if they're religious experiences, without much of the religion that we'd expect in such things. They might be God-fearing folks, but their greatest fears are reserved for themselves and their fellow man. It's all of them that should be the most frightening and they rightfully stand in awe of the capacity for violence and insensitivity that lies within all of us. It's enough to make you want to get out of here and head back to the woods, out there amongst the loudest crickets, the sweetest air and the silent fields that sound like they're shushing us into submission when the hot winds start to blow around enough in the middle of the day, the lullaby for the livestock's afternoon nap. It's Sunday morning bluegrass, based on all of the indiscretions of the previous two nights, though the most damaging stuff always comes back to the one who knows it. We only have one worst enemy and lead singer Dave Wilson reminds us of that when he sings, "Some excuses are short and some are long." We're the ones making them. We think they sound good, like they might get us by and out of the jams we continuously put ourselves in. He also reminds us that "tonight's our fate" at one point and we realize that he's not lying. It wouldn't feel like this if he were. It wouldn't burn so much.