Not terribly long ago I went to a Rocky Votolato show at the Troubadour out in West Hollywood. He was on tour to promote his new album The Brag and Cuss. After streaming the album for free on Barsuk’s website I decided to grab a $12 ticket.
The set was raw and organic yet sweet to the palette. His sandblasted voice drips with passionate intent. The only slight annoyance throughout the show was some guy standing just in front of me who repeatedly requested the same song during every break in the set list. By the end of the show I could have punched him, and with his last comment of “I like where that capo is going” I could only hope that Rocky was about to play the song (at the very least to make the guy shut up).
He closed with the song I had heard so heatedly requested throughout the entire show. When he first started picking at the strings of the guitar it was as if the roof of the Troub had opened up and the stars were shining in time. Quiet yet distinct the song took flight, then was grounded again with the introduction of that sandblasted yet gentle voice and some phenomenal lyrics…..
“I am a prisoner in the sunlight
You are my cellmate in the darkness
There’s a box full of mix tapes with titles you came up with
They can show us where we came from but not how to get back there
Listening to the songs can’t heal my broken fingers
It’s just weight for the anchor to keep your ship here”
And then the harmonica cracks a wail that echoes the melancholy howl of a sad hound dog abandoned by its master and you can't help but get lost in the reflective story of the song.
The album on which the song appears (Suicide Medicine) became a part of my collection upon my next Amoeba shopping run and if I was only a half hearted Rocky Votolato fan upon entering the show, I was a full convert after the purchase of the album.