Sunday, March 20, 2005

I know I got a long way to go

My mother-in-law died yesterday and today I am writing her eulogy and listening to music. People have long known that sad music heals -- otherwise those Mississippi plantation workers would have quit singing the blues. I am not sure how music heals our pain. The sense of shared misery, perhaps?
Who knows.
I am healing myself by listening to Ryan Adams' great "lost" album, "The Suicide Handbook." I found a bootleg CD of the 21 songs, which Adams recorded after his solo debut "Heartbreaker" album of 2000. What happened after the recording is open to interpretation: Either Adams or his record company or both decided the sparse, mostly acoustic songs were too bleak for release. The album got shelved, although some of the songs did show up on subsequent albums "Gold" and "Demolition."
It's too bad Adams didn't release "Suicide Handbook," because it's sad songs are oh so beautiful. "Cracks in a Photograph" elegantly aches, while the "Suicide Handbook" version of "Firecracker" -- just Adams and his acoustic guitar -- simply floors the more familiar tune on "Gold."
This music is trying hard to heal my grief-torn heart. I just don't know how.


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