Words by Sean Moeller // Illustration by Johnnie Cluney // Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The day that this session was recorded, in the fall of 2011, Joel Hamilton's car had run out of gas. It doesn't make for a fun day, but the songwriter from South Carolina seemed undaunted by such an inconvenience. Maybe that was all because, if your car running out of gas is the worst thing that you've got to think about, you're still under par for the course because everyone knows there's a gas station just around the corner. Other needs aren't so easily met. Hamilton, with this new batch of songs, puts emphasis on the hierarchy of needs and what sits at the top. There still tends to be a blurriness to scaling that pyramid, or a foggy early morning standing in the way, but it is quite apparent what's held closest for him. The melting away of time, a calendar's spilt blood, is the catalyst for most of his worries about love and loneliness - two things that go as hand-in-hand as any do. Feeling that time is flying, that the year passed over you as if it were a week and you're suddenly struck by the fact that you've not made any progress - you're no better off than you were a full year earlier, you're no happier or more cared for that you were 12 months ago - is about as unpleasant of a feeling as they come and Hamilton sinks his teeth into that mentality.
He sings, "God is something you can always see/Love is someone you will have to leave to find/You were right the first time/There are moments you will realize/You could be wasting an entire life/Don't let it pass you by," and reaches new points of profundity in considering the ways that we can sabotage or undermine ourselves, ways that we can bring it all on. It's like letting our car run out of gas, actually wanting it to find no fuel in the lines, without any recourse, with no way to fill it back up. You're just stuck out there on the shoulder, with the littered beer cans, candy bar wrappers, cigarette butts and miscellaneous junk, walking in a general direction that could be all wrong, but you're gonna have to try it anyway. It's something that you've secretly wanted and you'll never admit it.
"I Need Love" is a song that seems to be about a life that's far from satisfactory. It's a gritty and it sounds like it's ticked off. It feels like Hamilton's going to run his fingers red over his strings, like he might just have to bang his head against the wall, knowing that he's the root of his obvious faults. He sings, "It feels wrong/But I'm so cold/All of the fire/All of the shame/I have a life/I have a name/I need love/It's all the same/To know I'm alive/It must be my way of taking knives/To my lame excuse/Of a life." He's hard on himself and he feels that he should be. It's no one's problem, but his own. He sings about "muddy motives" that seem abundant and destructive. Those can be defined as the motives that run wild in everyone. They're the ones we trust and they're the ones that are followed, right into the valley of the glum.
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