The Weakerthans are no longer a band, as of the day that ended 40 minutes ago.
Life is not easy, lately or ever, but for me, The Weakerthans, have always made it better.
This band was a gift from a friend, a discovery I cherished to find and never grew tired of. Their songs have meaning that unravels and unfolds, that adopts to new circumstances and paints them with poetic context time and time again. Their rhymes and patterns roll off the tongue, their riffs soothe and strengthen and sedate.These songs have grown only more important — and relevant — to me as I’ve aged, whereas so many others have faded away.
John K. Sampson is one of the greatest modern lyricists, and worthy of awe in plainspeak. The band’s aesthetic is a weathered indie rock with a healthy Canadian flair, suitable for bus rides with the Discman, headphones across campus, or long drives across interstates. Their brand of lonely is comforting, even when being alone isn’t a concern. The amount of times I have played “Aside” in order to not feel so bad about feeling so bad, or “This Is a Fire Door Never Leave Open” when I am homesick, or “My Favorite Chords” to consider the shy little intimacies of love, well, it has to be in the hundreds by now.
I know most of their catalog like the back of my hand. Like I know my name or my home address. I know their words the way Christians know Bible passages, and I believe I repeat them for the same reasons. They make me feel, they make me understand, they make me believe. That won’t change, just because the band is no longer a unified, existing entity. I will still get to love these songs, I will still play them and sing to them and share them with others. The Weakerthans, as a group, were inactive long enough that this is not exactly a surprise, but it still feels like I’m losing something. Like we, the listeners, will miss out on all we could’ve gained from something more. We will not get new material or tours. We will never again feel the anticipation preceding a potential release. We will no longer have new albums to rank, or live recordings to compare.
I never saw them live. What a shame. Least I’ll always have the mix CDs. I’ll always have the liner notes, the MP3s, the vinyl, and these beautiful passages embedded in my mind. No one can take that away from me.
“My city’s still breathing but barely it’s true
through buildings gone missing like teeth.
The sidewalks are watching me think about you,
sparkled with broken glass.
I’m back with scars to show.
Back with the streets I know.
Will never take me anywhere but here.
The stain in the carpet, this drink in my hand,
the strangers whose faces I know.
We meet here for our dress-rehearsal to say ‘I wanted it this way’
Wait for the year to drown.
Spring forward, fall back down.
I’m trying not to wonder where you are.
All this time lingers, undefined.
Someone choose who’s left and who’s leaving.
Memory will rust and erode into lists of all that you gave me:
a blanket, some matches, this pain in my chest,
the best parts of Lonely, duct-tape and soldered wires,
new words for old desires,
and every birthday card I threw away.
I wait in 4/4 time.
Count yellow highway lines that you’re relying on to lead you home.”