I don't know why I am drawn to moody singer-songwriters whose only tools are an acoustic guitar and a story to tell, but I figure it goes back to a love of Bob Dylan that was cemented when I did a project on Dylan in high school. Later, at the Coast Guard Academy, we were asked to write and present a speech on someone who was a great leader, and I chose Dylan over such nautical heroes as Douglas Munro and Admiral so-and-so.
Ryan Adams, who I first got to know through Whiskeytown, is now a solo artist and married to Mandy Moore. (The latter fact is not important, except for the fact that I have a crush on her.) He was preternatually gifted with the alt-country pioneering band Whiskeytown, and I looked for a YouTube video of their song "Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart," which is one of the better stabs at a true blend of country and rock ever done. The song I ended up posting is from Whiskeytown's final album, which at that point was essentially a Ryan Adams solo alum. I remember listening to that album on bike rides along the swamps of Morgan City, Louisiana, where I lived for three years as a boat inspector in the Coast Guard. I wasn't a "soldeier" referred to in the song, but it was pretty close to being just as dirty and morale-depleting. The song reminded me of how home-sick I was, and isn't that what great art does — it makes you sad.
Here are two renditions of the song:
From the song:
Well, Jacksonville's a city with a hopeless streetlight
Seems like you're lucky if it ever change from red to green
I was born in an abundance of inherited sadness
And 50-cent picture frames bought at a five-and-dime
I ended up a soldier on the weekend
Looking for a vacancy I wasn't able to find
Somewhere the night sky hangs like a blanket
Shoot it with my cap gun just to make it
Seem like stars