Kasey Chambers and Stacey Earle are two of my favorite singer-songwriters. Both released initial albums – “The Captain” and “Barricades and Brickwalls” from Chambers, “Simple Gearle” and “Dancin’ With Them That Brung Me” from Earle – that are among my all-time favorites. Then they decided they’d like to work with their husbands, and the quality of music has gone downhill since.
The ugly truth about art is that unhappiness seems to be the genesis of so much great work. A happy, content life? It worked for Bach, but has Clapton been nearly the same artist since he got clean? Anger, pain, loneliness, etc; they make life difficult but produce, in the hands of artists who are open and willing, amazing songs, stories, and other art.
Oh where would I be if it weren't for you
I guess I'd have nothing so how could I lose
So from you I'll take nothing, no nothing at all
With nothing to stop me, it's right down the hall
I'll reach for the knob then I'll walk through the door
And I will feel nothing for you anymore
And if you see someone that you never knew
That's where I'd be if it weren't for you
Stacey Earle’s “If It Weren’t For You” is an angry, bitter song. Slow, guitar with an echoing background harmonica and a foot tapping the floor; the pain of a relationship gone wrong seeps through every note. The anguish of regret is visceral; the barest glimpse of hope – “I never looked back, I just ran” – is barely even that.
“Loser’s Weep” is about a teenage pregnancy and giving the baby up for adoption (she later reunited with her son). “How I Ran”, from her second album, coming to terms with her divorce from a too-young marriage:
At least we don't argue anymore...
Well, is that why they call that thing, there, "love and war"
'Cause in the end nobody won
Just threw up our