Song of the Week – Traveling Alone, Jason Isbell

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

About a month ago I went to see Jason Isbell with a few friends at the Warfield in San Francisco.  Shawn Colvin did a nice solo set to warm up the audience, then Isbell took the stage with his talented band – The 400 Unit — including his wife, Amanda Shires (singer, songwriter, fiddle), who only joins Isbell on occasion due to the commitments of her own successful career.

One of the highlights of the set was his signature song, “Traveling Alone.”

Isbell has recounted a story about meeting Bruce Springsteen where The Boss told him that he was introduced to “Traveling Alone” by his son – then proceeded to sing the chorus to Isbell.

I’ve grown tired of traveling alone

Tired of traveling alone

I’ve grown tired of traveling alone

Won’t you ride with me?

But the song is much more than that catchy chorus.  It is a semi-autobiographical story about how he needed Shires to help him through a rehab program to end the downward spiral his life was in due to alcoholism.

I quit talking to myself

Listening to the radio

Long, long time ago

Damn near strangled by my appetite

Ybor City on a Friday night

Couldn’t even stand up right

So high the street girls wouldn’t take my pay

They said come see me on a better day

She just danced away

Isbell is known to include covers in his set.  He has recorded and/or performed Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” and “Because the Night.”  On the night we saw him, he closed his set with a kick-ass version of early Fleetwood Mac standard “Oh Well.”

Enjoy… until next week.

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