Monday, March 16, 2009

In Rotation: To Willie

What? To Willie by Phosphorescent, Matthew Houck's reverent ode to Willie Nelson, and therefore to plain old regret, doubt, the pain-muting qualities of various substances, and the fresh regret engendered thereby.

Why this? Why today? I can't fully explain it, but something about spring run-off invariably sends me scurrying for the comforts of country music and its off-shoots. Recent days have seen me cozying up to Neko Case and Merle Haggard, but this is the one that sticks, the CD that gets carried from the car to the house and back again. It stirs memories of pre-adolescence, when my dad would mumble along to Willie's albums (cassettes) and I'd try to figure out just what there was to be so damn sad about. Now I'm older, and I understand. So does Matthew Houck.

This was a test, in a way, this season. I mean, if in fact this is spring, because who the hell knows around here, but the sun's out, the snow's all but gone, and we're up to our armpits in mud. If we don't have a snowstorm in the next few weeks, we might even start to see shoots. But this is the first urban spring I've experienced in eight or nine years, and I wasn't sure it'd be the same. No flooded fields, no overflowing ditches, no gravel road turned into a mudpit. I wasn't sure I'd have the same musical impulses. Would I open the windows and bleat along with Gram Parsons the same as I used to? Happily, yes.

What's strange is the degree to which my two year-old daughter has taken to the record. Thing is her favourite song is "Reasons to Quit" (sample lyric: "...the coke and booze don't do me like before...") and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

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