Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
"You've got to pour it out and pin it down/It ain't enough to make it up/You've got to take it town to town/You've got to pour it out and pin it down/For every dream that's in my mind/There's another butterfly I can't catch/Catch me baby/Catch me America," sings Red Wanting Blue lead singer Scott Terry on the song, "Pour It Out." It's not the only one in which the man from the crucial swing state of Ohio sings about the personal contract he and his bandmates have made with themselves. It's a contract that involves a lot of suffering. It involves extended time away from everything and everyone near and dear to their hearts. It's nothing but a self-constructed hell that's ignorantly viewed from the outside as a dream job and or a grand vacation. It's this life of living and breathing art. It's making music and feeling as if there's no choice but to take it out into the dingiest bars and shitholes, hoping to find some interested parties, praying that there will be a little bread and a roof offered at the end of the night.
It's that crapshoot that so many try and most fail at. It's soul-crushing and soul-affirming in such dramatic ways that it takes a real stubbornness to look at the effort clearly, to see it for what it really is. The fun in a great set, witnessed by five fun people and the bartenders, that resulted in a great hang afterward, all the beer you could drink and a splitting headache the next morning before another eight-hour drive, is very short-lived, but one of those nights can live on quite easily as a highlight, even when hope is dim.
Red Wanting Blue has been in every possible dark time that a band could ever be in, having been a band since 1996. These songs and the ideas that they're formed around have been carefully, some unwillingly, researched. They are complex and Terry gives them seasoned depth to make them feel like triumphs, even when they're describing just how horribly they're aching at the result of their own hands. They know that it's their own doing that's bringing all of this on. They can blame no one else - not that they want to. They were born to be travelers, to make the most with what little they have, still believing that they were getting more out of this crazy game than it was actively taking from them.
These are the resilient and scrappy remnants of men who are hardened and tattered, but still recognizable as the dreamers that they've always been. There's always honor in being one of those dreamers who keep clocking in, who keep getting knocked down, but who keep swinging the hammer and pounding the nails. Terry sings about always being broke, but being on the move, as if the two things canceled each other out, or that being on the move was seen as currency. He and the rest of the boys are weary and they've got scars behind their eyes, but they've come this far. As he sings on "Cocaine," "This world ain't easy on beginners when it comes to love/So push me/For sometimes I need a shove/Cause I'm way too scared to ever let go of your love/You're like cocaine/I take you in til I go numb/Cocaine/And I never say enough's enough/Cocaine/You do your best to fuck me up," and it's the drug that he calls love.