Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The undulating thought that dances through Chicago songwriter Ernie Hendrickson's folksy tales is one of a needed resolution. It's the un-talked about and talked about feeling that has him so beaten up. He's written a song entitled "Unfinished Songs," mostly about those things that haven't come to pass just yet. They are wanted and they are needed, but they just haven't been yet. They are the loose ends that flap in the breeze, sometimes slapping against the cheek, as a reminder, a difficult notion that you can never forget is there with you. Hendrickson sings about the unfinished stories that lead to the unfinished songs that are being referred to, but all that he's really thinking about are the unsettled stories.
For the most part, all stories finish themselves. We could get into a big argument about that, but it seems to be as true of a statement as there are. This doesn't mean that they conclude with the "right" endings, but they're all endings nonetheless. They are the periods at the end of sentences, even if they're followed but a series of them. Those open-ended ends are almost always complete.
He sings about mothers and fathers and there are issues there. There's a father who has a tough relationship with his boy, in one song, and before that boy got a chance to clear the air, over at the hospital, his old man was gone and what they had between them was never reconciled. It faded into the darkness, but it did end. There's nothing more to the story there, just a dead father who probably wasn't the greatest, but he damn well wasn't the worst either and the boy just wanted to tell him that, one last time, for the first time. It's this kind of sentiment that pokes itself into many of the crannies that Hendrickson puts into his songs. They are the sentiments from people who desperately want love to be cleaner and more orderly - that is until it actually gets that way - and then who knows what they'll be like then.