Musical Monday: When I Was Drinking

This is one of the saddest songs I know, one of loss and yearning. The original is by Hem, but I could not find a video, so I’m including this live performance by We Are Golden. The studio original (you can stream  it from the Hem website) is a bit cleaner and sparer, but this is lovely, too.

The bit that catches me is how, drunk, the couple had “nothing and no one to live up to.” How many of us were saved by parenting, by responsibility? I never drifted too low before my loss, never relied on substances, but my life was transformed by being a mother and knowing this two-way tug of love that you get from caring for a child.

And then, at the end, the pull back is so like grief, that we wish away and grow out of and still, always, save so we can relish another kiss. In her voice, you hear how durable this is, how loss leaves a stain and you can still be grateful and alive when it’s far away in the past.

When I was drinking
when I was with you
living it up when the rent was due
with nothing and no one to live up to

you and me dying on the vine
holding hands and drinking wine
now I’m not the same girl I left
behind with you.

Twelve bars behind us
and twelve bars to go
bottles of beer lined up in a row
one for each hour you didn’t show

you and me dying everyday
getting high just to pass away but
that's not the reason I couldn't stay with you

Now I am sober
now I’m alone
three years have gone by since you have gone
letting you go
letting me go on

But I’ll raise a glass now to you and me
to lift me high so I can see
which of these blessings are killing me.

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