Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
It's quite good to know that lonesomeness can sound so romantic. Jim Avett, the papa bear to the brothers Avett - Scott and Seth, holds us good and long in an amber light that's somewhere between champagne bottles being popped and poured in celebration and the questionable, searching reaches that the mind takes us to when our love's not as close to us as it should be anymore. So much depression comes from separation, from distance - the great wedge that affects people who can't live without one another. It can make every mile on a road feel like a thousand and it can make every second feel like a decade. It turns asides into boiling misunderstandings that can spill and scald. It turns yearning into pain.
Avett is an expert storyteller, with a knack for making all of his sage tales sound like they're being spoken from the inner-most ring in a two-hundred-year-old oak tree, with mighty limbs that have withstood more storms and more wind than it could ever count or measure. Been reading a lot of Jim Harrison's poetry lately and much of it strikes me as companion work to the weary songs written by a man who's experienced much happiness, much less sadness (but still plenty) and seen too much staggering beauty to comprehend. Harrison's poem, "Back To Memory," is one piece in particular that feels very close to a general Avett mood. Harrison writes:
"The tears roll up my cheek
And the car backs itself south.
I pull away from the girl and reverse
Through the door without looking.
In defiance of the body the mind
Does as it wishes, the crushed bones
Of life reknit themselves in sunlight.
In the night the body melts itself
Down to the void before birth
Before you swam the river into being.
Death takes care of itself like a lightning
Stroke and the following thunder
Is the veil being rent in twain.
The will to live can pass away
Like that raven colliding with the sun.
In age we tilt toward home.
We want to sleep a long time, not forever,
But then to sleep a long time becomes forever.
The line, "In age we tilt toward home," would likely make Avett nod solemnly. He'd slow that nod, look off into the distance and probably nod once more, solidifying just how much he agrees with the sentiment.