Dearest Rachel –
I’m not gonna play the song here and now, because it deserves it’s own essay sometime in the future, but Mark Heard wrote “Another Good Lie” about those well-intentioned lies he had been told in his younger days by his closest friends and those older and supposedly wiser than himself. Things like how he could do anything, become anything, and how they would do anything for him. It all sounded so (literally) promising. All too good to be true.
Which, of course, it all was.
Again, I’m not going into detail right now about those lies, and how they “came down on your daddy’s soul until it made him old.” Nor that they came down “like a crosstown hurricane on fire.” Rather, I’m looking at the line that describes them as “like a freezing rain from a hot blue sky.”
And the reason I seize on that line is because while the other two – especially the one that describes the damage done to the singer’s soul – are clearly negative, this one… not so much.
Maybe it’s the August heat talking, although in the middle of the night, the heat isn’t quite so bad as all that. But standing outside in a chilly rain in the middle of a hot night in the midst of a series of hot and humid days is actually quite refreshing. So I find myself questioning Mark’s choice of words here.
Now, maybe I would think otherwise if I was standing outside with Chompers in the middle of a sleet storm – which would be a much more accurate representation of a “freezing rain” – than in this refreshingly cool summer shower. And of course, I would be particularly unhappy, regardless of the temperature, were I not wearing a cap to keep the rain out of my glasses. But as it is, I rather enjoy this, and I don’t quite see how this could lead to the psychic damage that he describes.
Of course, I’ve listed the effects he describes in reverse order. It may very well be that those good lies start out as something cooling and refreshing in the midst of a dry spell of life; some thing that continues to hold out hope when things are starting to look bleak. And as these hopes continue to not come to fruition, the effects of these lies grow fierce on the spirit, ratcheting up from mere rain to a full-on hurricane, cascading upon the singer sheets of both water and fire. And then in their final stages, the effects of these ‘good lies’ are simply endured rather than being compared to natural events, however catastrophic. All that is left is a soul that is prematurely aged, carved with deep ruts like the canyons of Arizona. And bear in mind, this is from a man who even you managed to outlive by a decade.
But it all started with a cold rain on a hot day, which must’ve seemed like such a welcome relief at the time. But as they grew in strength and importance, their damaging effects became clear; but by then, it was too late to recognize them for the lies they were, and simply disregard them.
Maybe I’m reading too much into this chorus.
You know, I said I wasn’t going to attach the song, as there’s so much to unpack in the verses as well. I certainly found myself listening to it many times on my way to and from work, as I felt that I had been deceived about my own abilities and the help that others offered in dealing with my struggles. I still want to go into those details another time. But for now, I feel like I should remind you of what that song sounded like. Even as I describe it, I feel it needs to be heard, to be experienced, in order to understand it. So, here it is:
In any event, it’s getting late. I’ve gotten Chompers in, he’s been dried off and given his bedtime treats. I’m sitting in the bedroom waiting for him to drop off, and to be honest, I think he already has. So I’m going to wrap this up call and leave you with music for now. I’ll talk to you again later.
As always, remember that I love you.