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What became the Last Lament

It’s important to note before I continue, as it will continue to apply to all blogs like this I write, that songwriters are not perfect people. STOP THE PRESS. SHUT THE FRONT DOOR. PADDLE THE ELDERLY. Yes, that’s right. We often think of songwriters as troubled or struggling, but we only tend to do so in ways that are romantic and position the artist as an underdog or “endearingly flawed”. And the beauty of songwriting is that there gets to be no contradiction to that narrative.* So before I explain where I was coming from on this song I’m going to draw attention to the fact that I will not always be delineating the line between objective reality and how I was experiencing things in the moment. Was I wrong? Was I justified? Does the other person in this story have a compelling narrative that may change how you view the situation? Maybe! (Probably!) But that’s not what this is about. For me, at the time, this is was what was real and this song is what came out of it.

So to continue, The Last Lament.

At the time I wrote this song I was roughly a year outside of the most serious relationship I had had to date (that date). Since we’d ended things mutually for reasons that were super adultish we tried to maintain a friendship after the break up. We did this without really observing the natural “time off” couples need to recalibrate their relationship because we were smarter than everyone and we obviously didn’t need it (this should sound ominous). While I watched my newly minted “friend” enter into new relationships with relative grace (jealousy isn’t a big part of my day), I did start to take issue with what I saw as a string of shitty boyfriends who did shitty stuff. It also felt, as time went on, like I couldn’t reach her except in those moments when she would grieve one disaster or another. “He didn’t show up again. He says shitty stuff to me. I think he’s cheating. He might be cheating. Okay, he’s obviously cheating”. I started to think I was basically there to help her pick up the pieces. What’s worse is, I wanted to be that person. For reasons that seemed simple then [but complex now] I thought I could do this thing for her, as a show of my commitment to our friendship. Because looking out for friends is what you do.

Looking back, almost every part of this should have been setting off alarms like a sinking submarine. While it might seem simply the overconfidence of youth, it was really one part that and one part that there was an emotional intimacy in our relationship that I was terrified to lose, even after it should have been clear it was gone (and likely needed to go). Slowly, quietly, my self-appointed position as sentinel broke me down. The horror stories, the late night conversations, the closeness, and then the inevitable feeling of being discarded when someone new would appear. It took a long time, but eventually I became angry. Truly angry. I started letting the hurt bubble to the surface for weeks until finally I wrote this song. It consumed me for a few feverish hours and became the catharsis I had secretly been seeking since the breakup. The release of expectation and the absolving of responsibility.

Not long after I started to realize there were problems with how I’d gotten where I was, with how I was trying to control what our “friendship” should look like. With my belief that I knew what was best for her and for us (instead of leaving that up to her and trying to navigate our new relationship organically). And most importantly, with my own sense of self-worth. Why would you stick around when someone so obviously doesn’t want to reciprocate what you are trying to offer them?

But this song is before that clarity. It’s about what was real in the moment and the moment has it’s own clarity. The rage and the hurt. The beginnings of at least knowing it was time to move on. It’s not all fair (or maybe it is), but it’s where I was, and so I still love this song because it perfectly captured a moment, a part of my growth. I still get choked up when I play it because in performance I’m trying put myself back there, into that moment, to hold that hurt and harness it. It might seem odd, but some of the joy of performance is reliving trauma, and in so doing, relive the release from it.**

The good news? I named it The Last Lament before I had written a single lyric and in the end, it was. I got my wish. It became the last stop on a journey that started on my first album. The last song for a love that inspired a lot of growth, a lot of great memories, and a lot of music.

ADDENDUM: It should be stated that I have nothing but love for the woman mentioned in this post and song. I know I don’t adequately capture my own inadequacies or her virtues (yay authorship!), but suffice it to say, we all had things to learn and were doing the best we could. She will always be a dear friend and I will always be thankful for what we had.

*I also write about this exact disconnect on the first record in the song What’s Been Done“Cause it’s easy to win the argument when there’s no one on the other side…”
**And for those following along, this song ended up in the show (with)out, so I also got to drag some dancers through this process with me dozens and dozens of times. Neat!

music & lyrics by J. Everett

You’re falling again, going down, down, down…
And I won’t break your fall
The pain that you hide you’ve known all your life
And you can’t hear my call

The house is on fire, there’s no one inside
So why submit to the flames?
It hurts just to watch, the lines I can’t cross
And watching you burn’s such a shame

And I, I won’t be your soldier anymore
Cause time after time, while I held the line
You could not tell me what I’m fighting for
And I won’t be the man dust-covered on your shelf
‘Cause while you are near, I disappear
Thinking I’m saving you but losing myself

You use me for peace, a welcomed respite
And I jump at your whim
What I say is wrong, so I hold my tongue
The truth I bear within…

‘Cause who am I to judge, but one you once loved
But never did you understand
It all now make sense, willful ignorance
Will always guide your hand

And I won’t be your soldier anymore
Cause time after time, while I held the line
I could not fathom what I’m fighting for
And I won’t be the man dust-covered on your shelf
‘Cause while you are near, I disappear
Thinking I’m saving you, but losing myself…

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