Odes to addiction
October 27, 2017
Posted in View from the table
The fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity
From Lou Reed and Thurston Moore to Patti Smith and Polly Jean some of the finest songs ever written were done so about addiction. I could make an almost never-ending playlist of appropriate songs, though granted, you might not want to listen to it.
This fact has sprung to mind on account of my current obsession with Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood’s collaborative 2013 album Black Pudding. It’s darker than a raven’s wing; intimate but brooding, intense and lyrically heavy. It’s not for everyone, but it is for me. To think I was once nicknamed Ray of Sunshine, without irony. Ha. I have this in my car and on my turntable at present. It’s beautifully unsettling but calming too, you just can’t ignore it. Multi-instrumentalist Garwood playing almost everything on the record, Lanegan’s chilling gravel drawling through the vocals, co-written by the pair. I love them both solo, how I’ve only just discovered this gem I do not know.
Addiction (drugs and love, love and drugs – sometimes the two are one and the same), death, redemption and darkness weigh heavily throughout the album. I drove home early in the morning this week, across country, the sun rising, the road empty, this playing. I felt like I was in a Sergio Leone film, solo in a deserted landscape, on the run. It felt beautiful, special. Sparse and lonely, in a welcome way. Apocalyptic blues, bewitching and evocative.
Scratch anyone’s surface and you’ll find an addiction – some comical, some relatively/sort of harmless, some skirting and bordering on a suicide mission. I defy you to find me someone without one, it’ll be there, maybe hidden down deep in the dark recesses. Nicotine, alcohol, love, drugs, food, consumerism, sex, oversharing on social media, shit TV – whatever. I defy you.
But the best art comes from these places, from pain and heartache, well I think that it does. The muse reveals herself in many forms, she’s found in many places, faces, haunting the empty spaces at her full height, the spaces that once were happily occupied. The songs and chords that could crack a black heart of obsidian, the photographs and paintings that sear into your eyes, poems instantly memorised, song lyrics that haunt you. Willingly haunt you. They all come from the hard places.
Dark Scorpio is rising, Samhain is just a few days away, this album feels right, right now. I’m not frightened of the dark. “Cut your midnight black hair, roll you in the dirt, just slide the needle in, till it doesn’t hurt”. Like I said, not for everyone. But definitely for me.