the horses they will challenge its stride

I had a lover once who loved Ryan Adams. Loved him. He would play me songs on his guitar late at night, stumbling charmingly through the chords and, to borrow a lyric from one of Adam’s songs, he was “sweet enough to sing, oblivious to melody.” Winding Wheel, Crossed Out Name. I liked him the more for not being particularly good at singing or playing, but for still making a concerted effort to entertain me in the way I love best. Don’t give me flowers or recite poetry–give me music. I’ve always been a sucker for a song.

I did my part by promising to give Adams’ albums a fighting chance. I was skeptical. All I knew is that he was primarily a country musician, and that his ballads were all over soppy episodic television dramas. I never liked country music. My sisters went through an obnoxious phase where it was all they listened to, but for me it just never took, with the exception of an occasional old-timey country craving. So I chose an album at random, and listened to it, and liked it quite a bit, until near the end of the album when I was totally bowled over by the over the top melodrama and flamenco guitar of “the Sadness.” And then I was in love. I mean, a southern songwriter who loves the Smiths–it’s probably more accurate to say it was just a matter of time, but “the Sadness” is what did it.

I bought every album I could find, and none of them were remotely like 29. I found that on an album of 12ish songs, there would be 1 or 2 I loved, 1 more I liked a lot, and maybe another one I thought was pretty good. Not a great ratio, except he is so prolific that after sifting for gold through all of his albums, there are more songs of his I love than there are songs I love of artists who put out whole albums I adore.

I go through moods with my music, as people do, and it’s been almost a year since I listened to him repeatedly and regularly, but “the Sadness” came on on my way home, and imbued the city with its melodrama.

The stars they sink
In the oceans of ink
Long black ribbons of cars
And in the taxi
You ask me how I’m doing
But you already know

Beyond, beyond is not through
Its only a reflection of you
And something’s at the window
It motions with its fingers
Calling me beyond

The sadness is mine
The sadness is mine
Its why you’re not helping me
Whatever has come for me
Oh I can give you whatever you’re wanting
Just take it and spare me spare me
Please oh tell me this is only a warning–no!
Please have mercy let me go

If only a day to let her know
Without her love I’m nothing at all
The change is happening and I’m almost gone
In her heart is my faith
And it wins against the sadness

The train it moves through the desert
The horses they will challenge its stride
And into the boxcar she leaps
And is my hero
And penetrates the demons inside

The clouds they pass
But they’re moving so fast
I watch them collide
Collide and collapse in her arms like a newborn child
And I’m at once reborn

The fog in the moat
As he grabs my throat
It lifts as she comes
She opens her cloak and it’s the color of the blood
And is the sign of what now must come

Deny deny me my destiny
I am not ready to go
I am the horror that brings us to the morning
Where I will have to stand and fight God


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