Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
Today's one of those Sundays that Jesse Dayton sings about in his song "Creek Between Heaven & Hell," a collaborative story of many childhood Sundays, the collateral effect of them and where that got him as a man. It's a song that sparks our own memories about these lazy days that are set aside for sporting events, scripture, rest, long walks and family. This Sunday is a hot one, with the skies threatening us will all kinds of rude fists, ready to throw its punches whenever its built up enough of its anger. We've heard that the tornadoes are on the prowl. They're just west of us right now, maybe or maybe not throwing us a cyclone for dinnertime entertainment. It's the same kind of heavenly treat or heavenly menace that the Austin-based singer and songwriter frames on this song, a chance to lay out all of the loaded issues he's had with the sermons that he had to attend in his best clothing and all of the restrictions and conditions that came into play when he reached every Sunday. He sings of, what sounds like it might be a hopefulness, that there will be a ribbon of water providing the border between the two eternal destinations, perhaps because there's no telling what kinds of fish he might be able to expect in those water, or maybe for the simple thought that a creek can be easily foraged across, blurring the line between those who were good and those who were evil. He sings of being scared of the sermons he'd hear in the pew and of the guilt that he thought could be felt if the Holy Ghost were to ever spot someone loading up their poles to hit the fishing hole on a Sunday. The guilt was unbearable, almost in the same way that the pains that Dayton draws out of the characters in his songs are, with him focusing on those old men who have been through the fires and have lost a lot along the way. He gives us the reasons for their actions and he makes us want to place a caring hand upon their stooped and bony shoulders, as if to tell them that it's alright to feel lost. He seems to sing about the sinners or the could-be sinners and those who have been forced to see things they shouldn't have had to see and then shouldn't have had to deal with. "Jumped Headfirst" is a country song of a veteran in a haze. Dayton sings, "Stumblin' footsteps on the ground/All drunked up like Cooter Brown/I can hear him make his way up the porch/The blues and flames, a walkin' torch/Long as the night without a friend/Don't believe me, just look at him/And he jumped headfirst back in his shallow end/Well he jumped headfirst back in the shallow end/He married my grandma in '43/Uncle Sam shipped him off to Italy/The second war put blood on his hands/And he lost his mind and he lost his friends/Well, since then he ain't really been the same/And the single malt seems to ease the pain." It's that explanation of the self-medication that people always seem to want, though once they get it, they wished they hadn't asked. Or they wished there didn't have to be a reason. These are the folks who are stuck in the stumble, whom Dayton gives light and verse.