these are the last words

09Jun09
Libby got me the Drive-By Truckers’ album, “A Blessing and a Curse” for my birthday, which was pretty perfect of her because Friday night, I went to see Jason Isbell for the third time this year.

He played the Cannery Ballroom, opening for some band I’d never heard of and couldn’t be bothered to stay for, anyway. The 400 Unit marched up on stage at 9:00, carrying their signature bottle of Jack Daniels and ignoring the Nashville smoking ban as usual.

They seemed calmer than the last couple times I’ve seen them, playing a much shorter set than they would if they were the main act. But they played a few of the good songs, and a couple of the really good songs, and overall, it was a decent way to spend my Friday night. Jason was more talkative than I’ve ever seen him, cracking jokes about Ray LaMontagne, and repeatedly informing us of how great of a time he was having.

The greatest part about seeing Jason Isbell is not getting to hear some of my favorite pieces of music performed live. It’s getting to see such a talented musician play his instrument as if it were an extension of his body. He’s one of the laziest performers I’ve ever seen, but it suits him, because he’s just so great at what he does that he doesn’t have to make an effort. They closed with ‘Decoration Day’ and its fabulous outro that seems to go on and on forever.

He threw his guitar pick into the audience, and after a little scrambling around, I finally picked it up off the ground. I disentangled myself from the other arms struggling for it, was high-fived by two semi-frightening biker dudes, and made my way to the exit.

I slept in on Saturday, and when I woke up, I sat in the sunshine outside, finally finishing A Tale of Two Cities.

I miss college for a lot of reasons, but having finished reading that novel this weekend, I realized that the thing I miss the most about college is talking about literature with people who are as equally affected by it as I am.

It is quite easy to see why most people consider A Tale of Two Cities to be Dickens’s masterpiece. It’s critical, it’s humane, it’s devestating and hopeful, it’s subtly hilarious, it’s complex and verbose. It is so many things other than just a novel. I almost wish I could go back to my senior year of college and, much as I loved writing about Tim O’Brien and Norman Mailer, write my thesis on Dickens, instead.

There is so much I could say about this novel, but I won’t. It took me more than a month to read, but not because it was difficult to get through. Because I wanted to savor the plot and I wanted to hold on to the language. Like the reading process, I don’t want to write about it because I don’t want to let it go.

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One Response to “these are the last words”

  1. Drat, now I really need to read A Tale of Two Cities.


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