The Man in Black could be a man of few words.

    But they sure beat a Sunday Morning Coming Down. I’ve mentioned several music icons in this space. Specifically, I have identified a few who were ultimately victims of the disease. The thought occurred to me that I might need some new music role models. Not that I’ll ever completely forget where I came from.  But since the idea is that progress is forward, not backwards, I took a look at my musical catalog and looked for someone who made it out alive. Cue, the Man in Black.

    Johnny Cash was a complicated man, often described as a devout but troubled Christian. His heart was good but his behavior wasn’t always. His music probably describes the internal and uniquely human dichotomy of high-minded intellect opposing base instinct as vividly as anyone this side of the Apostle Paul. He had a decades-long battle with addiction, but he died a sober and old man. His humility and willingness to be honest with himself about his shortcomings are the touchstones of any successful recovery.

    Johnny Cash resonates with me personally because even at his most debaucherous, he knew that he was not being true to himself or his roots. There was a yearning in him for a place and a time he had been before, but did not know exactly how to recapture. As AIC put it, “have I run too far to get home?” For our subject today, the answer was thankfully no. He eventually found Peace in the Valley.

    Sunday Morning Coming Down.

 

Peace in the Valley.

 

Day 35: No Excuses.

May 28, 2011

    I haven’t been posting very consistently this week, but that’s mainly because I’ve been busy during the day, and the time when I post most often – the early morning – is the only time I’ve been able to get good sleep. And I choose sleep over you, I hope you don’t hold that against me. I have lots of material for this week, though, so stay tuned.

    I’ll post more later today (promise this time). In the meantime, enjoy the melodic  “No Excuses,” by a frequent subject of this blog, AIC.

Rest In Peace

His partially decomposed body was discovered eights years ago today, roughly two weeks after his death, which was most likely a result of an overdose of cocaine and heroin (the level of decomposition was such that toxicology reports were not entirely reliable). Layne struggled throughout his life with substance abuse.  He used substances and routes of administration that were often identical to mine. He self-medicated depression just like I did. I have outlived him by a year.

There is a mother who sees the picture above and sees a beautiful boy who she could do nothing to save. That is why I am writing this stuff down. A force that is capable of  overpowering a mother’s love is something we need to study. It is an enemy we need to know everything about we possibly can. And right now I am fighting that fight, against that enemy, and the stakes are identical. Drugs are a zero-sum game: one winner, one loser. And the house wins waaaaay too often.

I happen to be a fan of Layne’s. I couldn’t overstate my admiration for him, in fact, so I’m not going to embarrass myself trying. For me the fact that he and other people like him are gone forever because of this disease leaves me with an oppressive emptiness. Like there’s just a big void out there in the ether where their art and music were supposed to be. And don’t get me wrong, a lot of these people were complete shits who treated people like shit and reaped what they sowed. But Layne wasn’t like that. I don’t believe so anyway.

The lyrics to Would by AIC are some of the most powerful ever, by anyone who ever tried to explain why we do what we do. We, being addicts. Defending the indefensible. What we really want – just once – is for you to try and see it our way. Which we know is impossible, but we still yearn for that kind of understanding, just that one time, from someone on the outside of the fishbowl.  
 
WOULD
Know me broken by my master,
Teach thee on child of love hereafter;
Into the flood again,
Same old trip it was back then;
So I made a big mistake,
Try to see it once my way.

Drifting body it’s sole desertion,
Flying not yet quite the notion;

Into the flood again,
Same old trip it was back then;
So I made a big mistake,
Try to see it once my way.

Into the flood again,
Same old trip it was back then;
So I made a big mistake,
Try to see it once my way.

Am I wrong?
Have I run to far to get home?
Have I gone?
And left you here alone?
Am I wrong?
Have I run to far to get home?
Have I gone?
And left you here alone?

If I would, could you?