Discernment and Music: Life By the Drop

The only reason I put down the guitar to give a blog update was my mother's complaining I was interrupting her sleep. I know my mother is thrilled to see me pick up my guitar again, however the sound of an acoustic can resonate through walls, and my mother is a light sleeper. I'll be happy when I get my Les Paul (hopefully Monday) when I can practice through my headphones and no one else can hear.

One of the acoustical songs I always wanted to learn was by blues great Stevie Ray Vaughan. I first heard the song in high school, when a buddy gave me a CD of his. It's easy to find guitar tablature for most any song these days, and if you're still confused, youtube usually has people playing the song for you to watch. Technology has made the chore of relearning guitar a lot easier.
I'd just started working through the blues intro when I was "kindly" asked to put the guitar down until the sun rose.

The song has real meaning, especially since the song wasn't written by SRV, but was written about him by another bluesman named Doyle Bramhall. Doyle grew up playing with many other legendary blues rockers in Dallas, TX, yet he seemed to be the guy that was in the back, out of the spotlight. Helping to write songs and music for Stevie Ray and his brother Jimmy Vaughan, Doyle would not put out his own album until after Stevie's death in 1990. It wasn't until after his death that Doyle even heard the recording of his song.

At first listen, it sounds like a blues song about living dry after dealing with booze and drug addiction. It is true that SRV had a problem with whiskey and cocaine during his life, however the song was not written by him. When looked at again from the standpoint of Bramhall, a guy who never was in the limelight, the song takes on a different meaning altogether.

For me, it's a sad song about regret-the regret of not living life to the fullest. The title almost screams that the song is about a drinking problem, but I think the metaphorical meaning is more about living "safely" as opposed to Vaughan who truly lived in the fast lane. It's not a song of jealousy or envy, rather a song of sadness that he chose not to chase the same dreams.

Today Doyle is recognized as one of the staples of the Texas blues scene and can often be seen at the Austin City Limits Festival. He's released several albums to date, some of which have been nominated for a Grammy. On occasion, he will even perform Life By the Drop as a tribute to SRV, since the song was written for him.

I don't know that the song has any huge personal meaning, other than I am happy with where I am, and I am here because I chose to follow my dream. I'm sure if I tried hard enough I could ignore this whole religious life idea and try to live my life like everyone else. I would have nothing to risk, and I could never be let down if I did not have a priestly vocation.

I no longer want to live with any regrets. I still struggle with things I should have done differently in the past, but if I look back on this time in my life, I can live without regret, knowing I followed my dreams. No matter the outcome, I'll always remember this chapter of my life as the time where I gave up everything to follow what I believed in.

Hello there my old friend
Not so long ago it was 'til the end
We played outside in the pouring rain
On our way up the road we started over again

You're living our dreams, oh you on top
My mind is aching, Lord it won't stop
That's how it happened living life by the drop

Up and down that road in our worn out shoes
Talkin bout good things and singing the blues
You went your way and I stayed behind
We both knew it was just a matter of time

You're living our dreams, oh you on top
My mind is aching, Lord it won't stop
That's how it happened living life by the drop

No wasted time we're allowed today
Churning up the past, there's no easier way
Time's been between us, a means to an end
God it's good to be walking together, my friend

Living our dream
My mind stopped aching
That's how it happened living life by the drop.

As always, the song can be found in the media player at the bottom of the page.

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1 Response to Discernment and Music: Life By the Drop

September 22, 2008 at 1:07 PM

I love this song. And good luck in following your dreams man. Your doing what others only dream about doing, but rarely ever do.