Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Should it ever come down to it and we're damned certain that the world is going to be irreversibly changed, altered into a morbid and drastically changed resemblance of its former self, it would be nice to have a little forewarning, something like a countdown. You'd like to think that if all of this shit were to go, an action that I'd like to think would take some incredible foresight and planning on the executioner's part, that we would be given a gaming chance to try and outrun it. Wouldn't that be kind of fun? It would give us all one last good hurrah before it all just went poof on us, all around us. For a few of the lucky ones who could outsmart the apocalypse or just pick the few safe points through dumb luck and happenstance, they'd get to stick around for a little bit longer and commiserate, while they foraged for food over the barren lands and pocked green, cancerous hellhole. I'd like to think that I'd be up for the idea of giving survival a fighting chance. The first thing that I'd do is pack the family up into the car with as many provisions as we could and then we'd pick up singer and songwriter Sean Rowe.
Hopefully, he wouldn't be too far out of the way so that it wouldn't contribute too much excess time to our escape, to our flight from the damage that, if we were to be honest with ourselves, we personally brought on. We'd pick up Rowe because, if we did find some kind of untouched sweet spot, some little forgotten about catacomb, where there were still some living things walking around, still some vegetables plumping themselves up into edible nourishment in the ground, we'd relish what he could give our flattened and deflated or deleted souls. We'd sit him in the corner with the guitar we'd salvaged and we'd just ask him to sing, or we'd ask him to just continue telling us stories until we were so scared any longer. Some of the stories he'd tell and the songs that he'd sing would make the children cry, or confused, but then again, with the demolishment of the world as they knew it, they'd have already been asked to grow up a ton anyway, so maybe they could handle it.
Rowe, with his voice the way it is, like the sound of an anvil or train car hitches crashing into one another when the engine decides to stop short, sounds like Zeus delivering messages to us. The stories that he tells are full of wrong and right, the struggles that so often go unnoticed - those of the spirit, between man and who knows what. They are those forever struggles that rarely get solved and they drive men to do crazy things. On "American," he sings, "Well she pokes out of science/She changes her skin/He falls out of religion and washes his sins/They get married in France cause the deal is better out there/And all the kids have grown up on driveways and lawns and the hunters keep secrets on factory farms/The children are hungry/They're eating a hole through the world," and the setting he provides doesn't sound like one that's too far off from one of a land that's trying to shake you from its hide, as if you were a tick or a flea. Rowe cuts straight to the bone and we want him with us when we're entering, face-first into the unknown fires.
*Essay originally published July, 2011