“What if I did not love you?
Where would that leave me
Would I wander through the avenues
Under a pall of misery

Would I be face down in the gutter
With cheap whiskey on my breath
The lonely life of a writer
Whose words could not pay his debts

Singin’ please don’t, please don’t pass me by
I am alive, oh can’t you see?
That I’ve been blinded completely
Please don’t, please don’t pass me by
I am alive, oh can’t you see?
That I am pleading for your mercy

What if we became strangers?
Would you notice my face in a crowd?
And you could you hear the sorrow in my voice?
Helplessly crying your name out loud

Would I be searching for a savior?
Burned and burning with regret

The lonely life of a writer
Only if one last desperate request

Singin’ please don’t, please don’t pass me by
I am alive, oh can’t you see?
That I’ve been blinded completely
Please don’t, please don’t pass me by
I am alive, oh can’t you see?
That I am pleading for your mercy

I’ve been on the lam
Being hunted, somethin’ fierce
They say time and tide, it waits for no man
But I was just hopin’
These storm filled skies would clear

Please don’t, please don’t pass me by
Please don’t, please don’t pass me by
Please don’t, please don’t pass me by
I am alive, oh can’t you see?
That I am pleading for your mercy”
~This Lonely Life
City and Colour, The Hurry and the Harm

I read a quote once, which said something along the lines of “when you smile alone, you really mean it.” I think about that quote most times I find myself content with solitude, when whatever the night brings is seemingly worth indulging when, when the quiet moments inspire gratitude.

Most times, that happens when I’m listening to a song, no matter how sad or sorrowful it may be.

Dallas Green writes some soulful melodies, and oh, are they a joy to sing, even when they sing of desperation.  He captures it in every note, though his style has always been one of restraint and reserve. No matter how much feeling there is, he doesn’t resort to harsh tones or gimmicks to portray turmoil and confusion. Instead he opts for elegant phrasing and classic verbiage for a high-minded appeal to match the direct and dire feelings he projects, finding the right balance of emotion and perspective.

City and Colour’s latest LP, “The Hurry and the Harm,” has been a constant fallback in my catalog of late, full of interesting lyrical concepts and satisfying melodies ripe for deconstruction. My favorite track, “The Lonely Life,” is a prime example: with a standard pop song format and tasteful, driving instrumentation, lyrical longing is matched with movement. Sure, it’s a song coming from a place of discontent conceptually (it is City and Colour, after all) but the walking bass lines, spotlit percussion and melismatic chorus form a steady foundation that’s far from hopeless. Rather, it’s one of wisdom.

“And so sudden the winds change
And so sudden you lose your faith
I will provide you
With a reason to believe

Cause you are a single grain
A mere molecule
Mistaken for a king
You’re only a simple fool

So take, better care
Of yourself, my friend
Take better care
Of yourself, my friend

~Take Care,
City and Colour, The Hurry and the Harm
Throughout the record, the backing instrumentation is incredibly satisfying: everyone knows Dallas Green can play guitar, but can he set a song?  Yes. Green writes incredibly satisyfing vocal lines and I’ve found I love singing along, even if there’s no way my fumbling amateur fingers can pull off those chords. His voice and message, throughout the years, has been a  constant one, and his most recent works say to me he’s learned how to refine his strengths of melody, rhyme and resolve.

Tonight I find myself listening to this album while playing out some boring, modern role of adulthood, the kind that involves sorting through institutional obligations while drinking cheap Cabernet. I find myself, as more often than not, most nights, desperate for creativity. I hold onto the influences and inspirations that spark reaction, I grab onto whatever I hear or read that provides some semblance of sense, and I let that prove to me my own reasons for creating such material might not be as futile as I write them off to be. After all, you have to start somewhere, and that may as well be the place where it feels right feeling like yourself.

“I don’t wanna be revolutionary
No, I’m just looking for the sweetest melody
If I overstayed my welcome
I would take my things and leave
‘Cause I’m not trying to be revolutionary

What gave you the impression
That your opinion means anything to anyone?
What gave you the right
To bear arms against me, against us?

You’re nothing but a bunch of amateur commentators
Who live your lives hiding behind a wall of insecurities

I don’t wanna be revolutionary
No, I’m just looking for the sweetest melody
If I overstayed my welcome
I would take my things and leave
‘Cause I’m not trying to be revolutionary”

~Commentators
City and Colour, The Hurry and the Harm