Friday, June 17, 2005

Ball and Chain (Friday song)

Well I'll pass the bar on the way
To my dingy hotel room-
I spent all my money
Been drinkin' since half past noon-
I'll wake there in the mornin'
Or maybe in the county jail-
Times are hard getting harder
I'm born to lose and destined to fail-

Take away, take away
Take away this ball and chain
I'm lonely and I'm tired
And I can't take any more pain
Take away, take away
Never to return again
Take away, take away
Take away this ball and chain
--Social Distortion

When I first heard this song, I liked it; it perfectly expressed that depressed, tired feeling, when it seems like everything in your life is just completely fucked. Then I worked with the junkies and alcoholics, and I heard the song again, and I realized that it's as good an intro to AA as anything I've ever heard. The song perfectly matches the stories that my recovering friends and acquaintances have shared with me--the overwhelmed, desparate, depressed sense that one's life is not just out of control, but spiraling rapidly down the drain.

One of the truisms about addiction is that if you pick up your addiction again, after you've stopped it for awhile, you don't return to where you were when you quit (in terms of consumption), you go to where you would have been had you not quit--that is, you pretty rapidly go beyond whatever considerable amount you were consuming right before you quit. (If I started smoking again, it would start out as a few at a time, but I'd eventually get to three packs/day, minimum, most likely; I was a very enthusiastic smoker.) C told me recently that right before he got sober, he tried to quit a few times--he lasted a month, a week, whatever--and, each time, he'd (a) find himself with a beer in his hand, and (b) would end up consuming even more than he'd been consuming. He was literally afraid to quit, because each time he tried he seemed to end up worse off. This song expresses that desperation.

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