With his latest album, Weathervanes, Jason Isbell secures his place as the poet laureate of working class tragedy
We went and saw him here in Richmond last night, and it occurred to me this morning that I had been saving this piece of yours until... well, now, I guess.
This is really great, and it hits so many nails on the head w/r/t why and how Jason Isbell is so great. I've been trying to write an essay about my personal relationship with the song Speed Trap Town, and I keep coming up unsatisfied which I guess is a different matter, but you're right in that his gift is in seeing both our particularities and the ways in which they're all universal.
Early in the show, he noticed a little kid toward the front with a sign that said something like "This is my first concert," and he joked, "keep going to concerts. I promise they're not all this sad." Later on, my wife asked me if his music made me sad, as I've been known to cry along with a lot of it, and I had to think on that. It's really not sadness, but rather aliveness. He pulls out notes of what it's like to be here that a lot of folks just don't, like someone who brings out more flavor in a dish.
I also like how you put this: "if there’s anything that unites most everyday people, it’s that they have to sell their time and labor in order to get by, which is to say that they exist at the mercy of forces they cannot control."
To conclude: I'm up for reading all the Jason Isbell content you want to write!