This is the fifth of a 19 part list of my favorite things about 2019. There are books and movies and artists and albums and places and experiences. Making the list has been a helpful way of looking back and taking stock of my year. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some important items. No doubt in 20 years I’ll look back at several things on the list and ask, “Huh?” But this is an attempt at this moment in time to remember…
If you listen to just about any song on Allison Moorer’s album Blood, particularly Cold Cold Earth, the second track, you might come away with an appreciation for the ways in which Country/Roots/Americana artists can mine the depths of sadness and create stories that are compelling, dark, and make you wonder how their characters can survive the trauma of the narrative. If you listen to the last two songs, Blood and Heal, you may wonder how a character that went through so much trauma could find love, solidarity, and wholeness out of extreme brokenness.
Then if you read Moorer’s book by the same title, you will be floored at the knowledge that she has not created a character, she is the character. Cold Cold Earth is the major plot line of her life, and it is as sad and terrifying as anything Hank Williams or Cormac McCarthy could have dreamed up, and yet somehow finds a way to be as hopeful as the first blade of grass turning green on a late winter’s day.
I was only slightly aware of Allison Moorer before experiencing the depth of emotions of Blood and Blood. Her song A Soft Place to Fall graces several of my playlists. I have been more aware of the music of Shelby Lynn, but was completely unaware that they were sisters. What has affected me most about Blood is how knowing someone’s story can drastically alter how you see someone, and for me this was as true for Lynn (who dropped the “Moorer” name when she entered the music industry) as for Moorer.
Another interesting confluence for me is that I spent a day this fall driving around middle Alabama, which is where Moorer’s story is set. I was reminded of the despair that faces rural America- no worse, only different than that of urban America– and how the human experience can bring about so much pain, and how the connections we make with others and with ourselves can save us.