Monday, September 3, 2018

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit at the San Diego Copley Symphony Hall, 10/1/18

photo source
On Saturday night, I got to see Jason Isbell in my own backyard at the San Diego Copley Symphony Hall. It was special on several fronts. First, it was my first time seeing Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit live. Second, Amanda Shires who is Jason's wife and has her own solo career (and currently on tour) was in the band for the night. Third, Jason's and Amanda's daughter turned three that day, and came out for a song with the band as the entire audience sang Happy Birthday to Mercy Rose.

During the set up between opening act Aimee Mann and Jason's band hitting the stage, I saw a roadie bring out Amanda's violin and set it up on it's stand next to a smaller microphone stand to the left of Jason's center mic. I turned to my wife Mary Kit at that moment and told her, "It's going to a great night!" This past week, as I poured through a bunch of Isbell videos onYouTube, I listened to how Amanda's violin and harmony singing completes Jason's voice and the 400 Unit's sound.

By the way, guess what the '400 Unit' means? My guess was- it was some kind or type of farming equipment. The name actually comes from the annex of the "the psychiatric ward of Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital in Florence, Alabama." The things you learn on Wikipedia.

If you spend anytime looking into Jason Isbell you will learn he was born in Alabama and who's mother was only 17 at his birth. On my playlist this week, check out Children of Children and you'll get an insight to where and how Jason's songwriting developed with his upbringing.

In 2001, Jason joined the Drive-By Truckers and established himself as a solid songwriter and performer. However, with a long history of substance abuse he was kicked out of the band in 2007.

In 2012 with help from Amanda Shires, her manager Traci Thomas and Ryan Adams, Isbell entered a treatment center in Nashville. In 2013, Jason and Amanda were married by Todd Snider, who I'll be seeing September 22nd with John Prine in Seattle. (I had to throw that in, in my continuing game of '6 degrees' of rock 'n' roll.)

I'm happy to say, the happy ending is always a daily process, but it's really exciting to see that happiness on stage right in front of your eyes. Jason, Amanda, and Mercy Rose have the world in front of them, with a lifetime of love and song.

That brings me to Jason's song, If We Were Vampires, from his 2017 album, The Nashville Sound. If We Were Vampires is in my opinion one of the best love songs of the 21st century. I can't get enough of the lyrics and watching these two artist's sing this song live facing each other made this a special evening indeed.

If We Were Vampires
It's not the long, flowing dress that you're in
Or the light coming off of your skin
The fragile heart you protected for so long
Or the mercy in your sense of right and wrong
It's not your hands searching slow in the dark
Or your nails leaving love's watermark
It's not the way you talk me off the roof
Your questions like directions to the truth
It's knowing that this can't go on forever
Likely one of us will have to spend some days alone
Maybe we'll get forty years together
But one day I'll be gone
Or one day you'll be gone
If we were vampires and death was a joke
We'd go out on the sidewalk and smoke
And laugh at all the lovers and their plans
I wouldn't feel the need to hold your hand
Maybe time running out is a gift
I'll work hard 'til the end of my shift
And give you every second I can find
And hope it isn't me who's left behind
It's knowing that this can't go on forever
Likely one of us will have to spend some days alone
Maybe we'll get forty years together
But one day I'll be gone
Or one day you'll be gone
It's knowing that this can't go on forever
Likely one of us will have to spend some days alone
Maybe we'll get forty years together
But one day I'll be gone
One day you'll be gone

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