Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The only thing we should really worry about is leaving some sort of a trace. There should be a trail, something meaningful to follow after we've gone ahead and kicked the bucket. There must be something that we can point to as a lasting offering, something to carry on for us - something more than a plot of earth that will eventually be seeded and grassy, dandelioned like everything else. It's gotta just be something that says, "I lived." It's important to feel that you're not just going to be forgotten, but part of the beauty of these remnants is that they do exist while we're still living and it's best to feel them as live tokens and tributes before the blood has cooled to cold. It's just as good to know and prove that you're alive now than to just have some trace after you're gone.
Willy Mason, the songwriter from Martha's Vinyard, has been writing albums of such impassioned and thoughtful prose for many years, but the material that's found its way onto his new record, "Carry On," is even more pointed and rich, making him seem as if he's even older than we thought his old man soul previously was. He's always sounded wise beyond his years - by decades and decades - but now he's more of a sage than ever before and we hear him trying to make out as much sense as he possibly can. He's wringing it from long afternoons and longer nights of intense thought, of sitting out on a porch, in the middle of nowhere, unbothered by people, place or thing. It's a thrum of silence and the squeak of a rusty chain on a swing, moving through the air, sideways and swirling when the wind kicks up a little and impedes.
These places that Mason goes to are rough and fairly tricky to navigate. They behave according to themselves and an unknown force. They have no starting point or finish line, just a whole lot of middle ground to cover.
He makes no bones about the very real possibility that the bumps in the road are going to be tough to shake, but those might be the greatest reminders that nobody gets a free coast. They might be the greatest reminders that you're here and you still have the ability to love, hurt and surprise and because of that - if the most is made of those abilities - your funeral will be attended. He sings on, "If It's The End," "Before things can get much better, I'm gonna have to face today/If it's the end/It's not the only end/Let it begin/Let it unfold again." It's a suggestion that everything's circular and mostly endless. "Call Out" ties the idea together with what must be done to combat our mortality and to remind others that we're living in that slumped bag of bones. He sings, "If we're all dyin'/What makes us distinct/We call out/Call out." We're fairly certain that he listens to himself.
*Essay originally published April, 2012
Willy Mason Official Site