Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dawes' "Stories Don't End:" Yesteryear's Rainy Afternoon

It rained for two days after she left. I spent most of my time on a well-worn yellow naugahyde couch staring out the window trying to figure out how what had happened and what I was going to do next. On the third day, it finally stopped raining and, in attempt to find some closure, I wrote a short, desperately worded letter to her. I rolled it up and corked it into one of those small jars she used to inexplicably keep around and went out for a walk in the cool, wet afternoon.

There was a creek that ran through the neighborhood, and it was bloated from the rain. It was my intent to throw my message in a bottle into the current and watch it float downstream. When I found an appropriate bend in the creek, I tossed in the jar, but, rather than bobbing in the waves as I bid it a tearful farewell, it simply disappeared into the stream with an unceremonious "plop.” I never saw it again. No poetry or romance - it was merely swallowed up into the muddy water.

Dawes wasn't around in 2002 back when I struggled to come to grips with my marriage ending, the reality of what had happened, and my delusion surrounding the whole thing. Stories Don’t End\ ended up in rotation earlier this year, however, and its brilliant lyrics reminded me of the way the world seemed when I was emotionally numb and fragile. I don't mean to say that the narratives found on  Stories Don’t End directly map to my experiences. On the whole, it’s not all about dealing with life in the wake of finding yourself suddenly alone (although that situation does come up).

What Dawes does so well, though, is speak profoundly about the paradox that arises as we look for something meaningful and poetic in the world and are instead presented with something we perceive to be mundane. From a different perspective, the profundity often arises when we notice poetry and beauty that is inherently embedded in the mundane.

When that jar slipped beneath the surface on that rainy afternoon, it seemed like a slap in the face, but it soon came to have meaning. I made a few vain attempts at kickstarting a songwriting hobby by mining the experience for lyrical ideas, but I was not, nor have I even been, the type of musician that could adequately capture this kind of humorous realism in words. 

Stories Don't End, however, ruminates on the dissonance that seems to exist between how things are and how they are subjectively seen. Due to my walk that day and the path I took in its aftermath, both positive and negative, I genuinely admire Dawes’ capacity to consistently capture these esoteric feelings in lyrics.  

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