Chris Stapleton: Music for My Soul

 

The last few years of my life have been an interesting concoction of experiences. The highest mountain tops and some deep-ass valleys.  I don’t mean this purely emotionally either. I mean it financially, spiritually, and professionally too. The last five years of my life have really covered a pretty wide swath of experience.

I am a very musical person. I listen to songs that adequately express my emotion as a coping mechanism, and if they can bring an element of truth in their lyrics, all the better. I recently found an artist that expresses my emotion and experience musically and lyrically. His name is Chris Stapleton. I know that this is not exactly a revelation, and that I am quite late to the party on this discovery. I instantly was attracted to “Tennessee Whiskey” on my local Nashville radio station (Lightning 100) last year, but I had only dabbled in his other music.

I recently had a sad occurrence in my life, and I was in a pretty thoughtful and deeply sad, place. I wanted to find music that understood what I felt. There is a reason that I usually turn to the Blues for this kind of emotional depth. Most genres and artists rarely speak to that part of my soul like Blues artists can. I reached for Chris Stapleton because I wanted to hear his astonishing lyrical skill. What I got was both amazing lyrics and the emotional depth of the Blues. There is something special about an artist that can write a lyric that is poetic and cleverly worded, while being the most truthful lyric I have heard in a long time. We all have heard those lines in songs that speak to our soul, and you know that it is not possible to so adequately express that emotion if they had not lived it themselves. This is a frequent occurrence for me while listening to Chris Stapleton.

Jamey Johnson says in his song “The Last Cowboy” that he has not been able to find anyone “to buy into sad country songs” since Waylon. Stapleton’s Country Blues has met that desire for the lover of sad ole country songs. The depth of sorrow in “Whiskey and You,” “Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning,” and “Fire Away” display a first-hand experience with despair. “Sometimes I Cry” touches that deep despair with a vocal performance that channels Stevie Ray Vaughn, and falls firmly within the sweet spot for a great Blues song.

This music makes me want to feel. This music makes me want to buy records, and remember. It makes me want to take another trip around the country in an old rust-colored van. It makes me want to sit in a dark club, sipping good whiskey, and listening to Chris Stapleton sing and play. In case you can’t tell, I am impressed with this music to a degree that I have not experienced in a while.

This last month my wife and I were excited to find out that we were having our first child together. We had experienced a miscarriage last fall, but that pregnancy had only made it to six weeks. This pregnancy had lasted 11 weeks, so we are in the clear right? The symptoms and milestones all pointed to the fact that this would be a healthy pregnancy. Imagine our surprise when we went to our first doctor’s appointment and discovered that there was no heartbeat. The emotional swing was like the first drop on a roller coaster that takes you from a high to a deep dark place in a hurry. The physical realities of this process are even more traumatic. It was at this time, while I was searching for an adequate musical outlet, that I discovered Chris Stapleton’s entire catalogue. The same day that I was searching, was the exact day that Chris Stapleton released the single “Broken Halos” about people who come into our lives to teach us, and then they leave us early. I have experienced this several times in my life, but the timing of my discovering this song was uncanny. Standing in my kitchen over a sink full of half-washed dishes, listening to the song over and over, and balling my eyes out, I found words for how I felt. In the rest of his catalogue I have found a warm blanket of desolate Country Blues. I have listened to Chris Stapleton almost exclusively since, and I simply cannot get enough. There is something healing about knowing that someone else has navigated the waters of despair that I am currently trying to pass through. There is a joy in finding words and a melody that sufficiently convey my sorrow. The songs that he writes speak to several experiences that I have lived in the last few years. It is not often that I find an artist that can voice how I feel, and have felt, better than I am able to myself. Chris Stapleton certainly can, and he certainly has. If you love Country, Blues, Southern Rock, or Country Blues and you have not listened to Chris Stapleton’s album Traveler and his new singles yet, do yourself a favor and give it a listen. You will not be sorry.

Thanks for reading,

JPeg

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~ by JPEG on May 1, 2017.

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