Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Josh Niles at Big Light, Nashville, Tennessee
The classic case of a chronic junkie is that they can't see themselves in a mirror. It's as if their addiction is vampire-like, casting no reflection. They're just able to glaze on past what's so obvious to everyone else. One look at them and any number of innocent, unknowing bystanders would be quick to point out the obvious, "Oh, that person's got a big old problem. They're a fucking mess." The junkies in Mindy Smith songs are on the gentler side of things, but the need for their drug of choice is still as devastating and as painfully obvious as it is in the fall-down drunk who can't help but cause a scene everywhere he goes. There is a similarity between them though and it lies in the inability to get clean. No, it's more than that. It's like a stubbornness to stay hooked, for better or for worse.
The people that Smith, the 40-year-old songwriter out of New York, writes are in deep with love. They've hung themselves on the feeling and a certain number of people who deal it to them. They prefer when there's an endless supply, but when it dwindles or gets taken away, they get the shakes. They find it hard to operate without it, without that person still around. They seem to figure that there are much worse things to be insatiable toward. There are deadlier and more destructive things to crave, is how their thinking goes. The way that they seem to be affected though, it's hard to tell. They tend to be cracked slightly, blocked from pure sunshine reaching them, held up from moving on. Smith sings on the song "Sober," "It's over and I can't get you out of my head/I should be laughing and living and loving myself instead/I tried sober/But I can't get you out." It's not working out so well, even when the sauce was cut out of the equation.
She thought she'd gotten to the crux of the problem, but she didn't even dent it. It's still staring her down, at all hours of the day and night. When you hear that, you feel that this woman is doomed. There's no chance for her survival. She will be mired in this unspeakable conundrum for the rest of her life, never straightening it out any flatter. But, we also can hear that there are two other tussles going on around her. One is a fight with something that might be a confusion of enemies. She sings, "I'll be damned if the devil's gonna sink my soul/I'm getting closer/I can almost touch the North Star." There's no devil here. It's all of her making. It's avoidance of the real problem. The other fight is the one that the junkie makes and wins, more times than not. Smith sings, "Honey, I ain't got a cure for loving you." It's a willingness to understand that there's no control to be had here. It's all just a splattering that will never be wiped up.