Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Steeldrivers


For the second time now, Patrick and I have devoted an evening of our lives listening to a band play.  We stood in line in the cold for an hour waiting to be let inside, in fear that the venue would sell out.  What band could so engross our hearts and ears that we would do this, you ask?

The Steeldrivers.

Patrick turned me on to them at the beginning of the year after stumbling upon their powerful song "Sticks That Made Thunder" came on his Pandora station.  Ever since then, we have been hooked.  Luckily, this band plays frequently in Nashville at The Station Inn, and seeing them perform in person is life changing.

Within the almost three hours we sat and listened to them play, I felt joy, bottomless sadness, and a sense of urgency.  Each song somehow moves the very essence that makes me a human.  I had emptied my beer glass, but I raised it high, just to feel the reverberations moving from their instruments and vocal chords through me and the rest of the crowd.  We were joined as one.

During their encore performance this time, I cried.  "Where Rainbows Never Die" is a song sung from the point of view of an old man, ready to die.  I love this song.  As they began to strum and sing the first verse, suddenly, I saw my grandfather, plain as day, standing beside me.  He grasped my hand as he used to in life, and pinched my cheeks.  I could hear his deep rumbling laugh, and I could smell his Old Spice aftershave.  Time stood still for a moment, and I was able to actually talk to my Papa.  

He never met Patrick in this life, and I had to introduce him.  I told him how happy I was with my life now, how Patrick and I were thinking about a baby, and how much I missed seeing his face and hearing his voice every day.  That's when the tears started to flow.  I couldn't hear the words of the song anymore, I just heard the melody, muffled, almost as if I were underwater.

While he was in the hospital, a few weeks before he died, I took turns with my mom and aunt, staying with him over night at Erlanger.  He had been suffering from dementia, calling us all different names, talking to loved ones long since dead by the side of his bed.  But one night while I slept there (if you could call it that.  I basically dozed in a chair beside his bed, listening to him breathe) suddenly I heard him calling for my grandmother.  I got up off the chair and held his hand, hoping to just calm him down.  He looked in my eyes and said, "Mandy... where am I?"  He was lucid.  So I told him about his fall, about the brain bleed, about the life flight and emergency surgery.  He said he loved me, he loved everyone.  And not to worry about him.    He was going to be fine.  And after just a few more moments of talking, he was gone again, confusion clouding his eyes.  That was the last real conversation I ever had with my grandfather before he left this earth.  So at the concert, I spilled my guts and said everything I could think of to talk about.

He smiled at me, told me how proud he was and held me tight; I could feel the love welling up in my heart.  As I kissed his scratchy cheek, the song ended in an explosion of clapping fans, and I realized how wet my face was.

I talked to my grandfather tonight.

I'm an old man now
I can't do nothing
Young folks don't pay me no mind
But in my day I sure was something
Before I felt the heavy hand of time

I'm an old man now
I'm bound for glory
Time to lay these burdens down
Had enough of this old world of worry
Gonna trade my troubles for a crown

I will make my way across the fields of cotton 
And wade through muddy waters one last time
And in my dreams I come out clean
When I reach the other side
Waste away the sunsets
Where the rainbows never die

I've got one last thing to do
One more mile before I'm through
Casting off these earthly chains
Going where there's no more pain

I will make my way across the fields of cotton
And wade through muddy waters one last time
And in my dreams I come out clean
When I reach the other side
Waste away the sunsets
Where the rainbows never die

I'm an old man now
Can't do nothing
Young folks don't pay me no mind

1 comment:

  1. *Tears*
    You always make my feelers come on. Damn you!
    Miss you!
    Hug you!!

    ReplyDelete