Can you love a song just for one line?
I don’t want another drink
I only want that last one again…
Speaking as a guy who enjoys a few drinks occasionally, that so much captures the experience. It’s not as much you want to get drunker, as you want to re-experience the transition to being drunk. But sadly you have to sober up to do that.
In this song the line is spoke by an old barfly at a bar in New Orleans. (I’m projecting the New Orleans part but that’s just the way I imagine the scene.) A hurricane is on its way, and for a few hours before there’s been a hurricane party at the bar. All those people have left for the safety of their homes but this guy can’t get himself to move, to return to his solitary house. But it’s not just inertia that makes him stay put. It’s also a desire to extend the moment, to ride a little longer on the excitement the impending storm puts into his life:
Just a fleeting sense of that rare suspense I once thought made the world go round
There was a great article in the New York Times Book Review a while back that spoke of how the Louisiana-born writer Walker Percy regarded hurricanes as therapeutic, beneficial. Percy’s point of view was they take people out of their everyday lives; they provide a focus and sense of purpose. It happens up here in the North with snowstorms, the shared experience of in a small way facing something uncontrollable and elemental. Fun and stimulating, right up until the moment your roof collapses.
I saw James McMurtry on a bill with Richard Buckner. It was a wordy evening. I hear James is great with a band but this night he was solo and let’s say the songs did not distinguish themselves melodically, although Buckner was the slightly more boring performer.
Those lyrics though! Like this from a more recent song, another internal monologue, this one by a guy driving to (hopefully) meet a lost love:
I’ve got a cup of black of black coffee so I don’t get lazy
I’ve got a rattle in the dashboard driving me crazy..
Every single car I’ve owned has at some point had a rattle in the dashboard that’s driven me crazy!
NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has Trump not gotten around to defunding them yet?) predicts an above average Atlantic hurricane season, with a potential for 5-9 storms. Mix up a drink, sit at the window, watch the sky darken. And most important of all, find a companion or two beforehand, because as James says here, there’ll be no one to talk to once the lines go down.