Two extremely thoughtful songs, demonstrating Hornsby’s determination not to leave any stone untouched in his commentary of the human condition and the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Furthermore, the songs here demonstrate the author’s willingness to address issues that most of the rest of us might find “difficult” or “awkward”, and would prefer to ignore. It may even be argued that Hornsby could have been more successful, in strictly commercial terms, if he had taken the easy option, “passed by on the other side” and left the humanitarian issues for somebody else to deal with.
“Resting Place” is the point of view of an overweight person and the everyday stigma that he must face just to make it through an ordinary day. On Spirit Trail we find some of the most graphic imagary of all of Hornsby’s work, this song is certainly no exception.
“Ever feel like a side-show attraction / ever feel like a walking infraction / Some people call me Tarzan in my big, big sweats…I get by being a funny talker / all those funny jokes sting / so keep walkin’”
I note Hornsby’s comments in one review that some of these songs are, in a way, little reminders to him about such matters. This is an honourable admission which we could all learn from, as most of us are probably guilty of little, flippant remarks which cause hurt, possibly without us knowing. Hornsby himself refers in a flippant manner, probably unconciously, to the “fat man selling salvation in his hand” in Jacob’s Ladder. However, Resting Place at least represents a concious decision to see the situation from the opposite viewpoint.
Fortunate Son is the ironic title of a song dealing with a character who is bound to his “ever present” wheelchair. This piece is a little more reflective than Resting Place – the quiet piano sets the tone – but the sense of battling against negative elements is similar. The first verse, situated in a street parade, is a quite remarkable, poignant example of an environment which the character must deal with:
“People laughing and smiles all around me / Balloons and paper in my hair / There’s a man in the car with the top down, waving wildly at me…I know he’s thinking / Better him, him than me”
The song deals with a range of emotions which touch the character’s life. In the first verse, a sense of being patronised by well-meaning individuals. The chorus betrays perhaps an element of self-pity. In the second verse, we learn of the experience of having to put a lid on emotion and deal with the situation rationally. Then comes the feelings of absolute despair. In the end, the resigned feeling of having to go out for a smoke and some drinks just to escape the hurt.
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September 18 2011