Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
It just so happened last night that an old, syndicated episode of "Friends" came on a digital channel of one of the big four stations on basic TV and there I sat, watching it, for no good reason. The day was essentially done and the new copy of Esquire was on my lap for flipping through, so I watched. It was the episode where Ross cheats on Rachel when they're separated and he tries to keep it a secret. It doesn't work and what ensues is a night of begging for forgiveness, for groveling and arguing. He tells her that he wouldn't know what to do without her, that he would "miss her heart," etc. and it's a 70/30 split between pathetic and heartbreaking, before she snaps out of it and shuts it down. Rachel tells Ross that everything has changed now. She can't look at him the same way. There was a time when she couldn't imagine that he would ever hurt her, but he did, and there is no going back. Fast forward a few hours to today - listening to the Watson Twins on repeat in preparation to write this essay - and I'm struck by the sentiment as it aptly applies to the kind of material and atmosphere that Leigh and Chandra Watson weave into their sad country songwriting. All of it exposes us to the problems of letting anyone get close enough to us that they can hurt us so badly. People can be thoughtless. Lovers can be thoughtless, even when they're still in love with the person that they irreversibly wreck. It's a messy thing and it spills out quickly, without warning. When these two beautiful, tall drinks of water decide they are going to write a song, they cut straight into the veins and pry open our vulnerabilities - those things that can bring us to our knees in no time flat. Those betrayals and those subtle, or non-subtle mistakes that get made often, when the guards are down and there is a momentarily loss of judgment, are the backbone of their emotional nuggets. We are shown to the room of a thousand aches - both joyful and tearful - and we see that they share more like characteristics than they do separate, distinguishing traits. They have so much in common that it's frightening and that's what tends to make the path that the love that the Watson Twins lay out seem as if it's covered in black ice. It could be a wonderful setting, if we look around: two people passionately dedicated to each other and the scenery off the path is covered in a pristine powder of snowflakes and rabbit paw prints, something almost idyllic. It's all this way until it's not, just one false step and someone's fallen and cracked a tailbone or chipped a tooth, unable to get their hands out in front of them soon enough to break their fall. They sings on "Old Ways," "Well, you've got angel eyes, but you've got devil's blood/And it makes our lives a futile kind of love," but that's just the tip of the iceberg. All parts of the loves dealt with on Watson Twins albums are somewhat futile - successful only as anomalies. Folks are skeptical of how all is going to play out, who's going to eventually turn out to be the bad guy. So everyone rides along, feeling the tiny bumps, smiling about them when the wheels stay on the car and loving just as hard or harder on that borrowed time, but they often feel that the blowout is coming. Until then, love is fine as the days melt away.