Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Josh Niles at Big Light, Nashville, Tennessee
There's a scene about halfway through Season 3 of "Walking Dead," where the character named Rick -- who has been the de facto leader of a group of people who have thus far survived a zombie outbreak that has taken over the entire United States -- is told that he needs to do something that makes sense in the framework of a Courtney Jaye song.
Rick and his group have had to shed much of their core faith in humanity and even what it means to be alive in their new lives as those fighting for survival against an unending stream of walkers looking to eat them alive. They've been forced to put the finishing touches of death on their own people so that they don't come back as zombies, when they eventually reanimate and turn. They've all taken plenty of axes and sharp objects through skulls to protect themselves. Throughout all of it, they've become less sensitive and more paranoid, even as they do their best to reclaim some of the normality that they used to have, even if just smidgeons here and there. They've been forced to look out for themselves as much as they possibly can.
At one point, Rick's group is forced to decide if they should allow some strangers to take up with their camp. Rick is defiant and against it until an older gentleman in his group pulls him aside and tells him that he's "wrong on this one" and that he needs to start trusting people again. When a person's been crossed enough times, a certain sense starts to tingle when everything starts looking like it might be headed in the same direction or those people could turn out to be even worse than the last disappointments.
Jaye, an incredible songwriter no based in Nashville, writes characters who are much more likely to trust people than the aforementioned Rick might be, but there's a hesitation none the less. Death isn't anything that could come of decisions by her characters to trust someone, but one could make the argument that it could be worse than that. Her people get themselves into those daily predicaments where love gets foggy -- where it's new or where it strays off script and becomes something a bit more impenetrable and a bit more confounding. It causes no less consternation than would a possible zombie attack. Jaye sings, "Met you in the springtime/Honeysuckle on a new vine/My heart in pieces on the floor/I had my fill of good times/The losing end of a cheap crime/Would you be like the other ones before." The loves that fail -- in whatever way they fail -- are remembered and logged as having been the result of cheap crimes, but the beautiful contradiction that gets lived for is that there are so many chances. The sky is huge and the combinations are unknowable and exciting. Each day should be given over to the honeysuckle on the new vine.