I was born in Fort Worth, Texas, on the east side of town, where the railroads wind and the neighborhoods are sleepier than their western counterparts. When I was a kid, I remember riding with my grandfather in his 1980 Ford F-150 in the dead heat of summer, listening to washed up country singers moan about heartbreak and hangovers while the cracked vinyl seats pinched the backs of my legs. As the scent of dipped Skoal snuff hung in the air like smoke from an ashtray, I remember watching my grandfather sing along, hitting each nuance like he wrote the song himself.
While he sang, I remember seeing these lines around his eyes and mouth that I hadn't seen before, as if some bridled jubilant rage took over and breathed life into an old memory, if just for a minute. I think that's one of my first memories of seeing what songs are capable of. And even though it's a cat-and-mouse game, it's what I've been chasing after ever since.