Driven to Far: An Autobiographical Music Review – Dark Night of the Soul – Sparklehorse & Danger Mouse


I suppose I could have added up the kilometres, but that information wasn’t relevant.


Doesn’t have a goddamn thing to do with how far you have travelled.

Locked in thoughts of where you were and where you’re going without the benefit of perspective. Each moment passing without the ability to reflect on it, because time passes and you can’t grasp it. Words linger without being able to wrestle them to the ground and beat them for information.

Instead there is only me, the kilometres and the music I’ve chosen to spend my time with.

Driving back and forth through snowstorms, Mark Linkous sings “When you raise your head from your pillow don’t delay / Because people decay / Will you let the rays of the sun help you along / I woke up and all my yesterdays were gone.” I might have a tear. It depends on which day; which snowstorm; they kinda blend together like the snow as it settles on the ground.


December 24, 2009 is the last Christmas I have with my parents. It isn’t pleasant. Sick people don’t make for good company… and by this time we’re all sick. They have cancer – I have depression. Everyone else is just sick with worry. None of us know yet.

Dark Night of the Soul is playing in the car on the ride home – another snow storm. Vic Chesnutt is singing “What went on in my horrible dream / I was peering in through the picture window / It was a heart-warming tableau / Like a Norman Rockwell painting / Until I zoomed in / I was making noises in my sleep / But you wouldn’t believe me when I told ya / That I wasn’t with someone in my dream / Catfish were wriggling in blood and gore in the kitchen sink / Yeah, I told ya / I told ya / I told you / Now sweetie, promise me / That you won’t sing /This sad song, grim augury.”

On boxing day, as I drive alone towards my parents house I hear of Chesnutt’s death. He took a bunch of muscle relaxants on Christmas Day and never came back. Some tears hit me and I’m not sure if they are for me or him. He was such an awesome songwriter.

New Year’s eve, my parents are both being taken from their home by ambulance. My mom needs surgery, my father can’t take care of himself and I can’t be with both at the same time. Separate rooms in palliative care two hours away from me. Peterborough – nice city, full of shitty memories. I’ve grown to hate Highway 115/35.


Frank Black is screaming “I’m pluckin’ all day on my angel’s harp / Shoutin’ at the rising moon / Knowin’ that I will soon stay” and I’m driving in another snowstorm… following an ambulance from Peterborough to Toronto. Cars are sliding around, but I take my time, life has handed me enough drama, it doesn’t need me to create more by being an idiot.

After the surgery my mom is in and out of consciousness, sometimes doing well and sometimes not; talking to doctors about my parents is like watching a yo-yo go up and down without any tricks.

Iggy Pop sings “A massive headache in my aging skull / Means I do not feel well / Pain, pain, pain / Bad brains must always feel pain.” Maybe, but I’ve got a steady diet of pain killers and muscle relaxants to keep that shit at bay. There are too many places to be and I‘m never in the right place.

She died. My mom. I don’t know what I was listening to when I found out. I was five minutes from the hospital in another fuckin’ snowstorm. And after, I was alone in the parking lot, distraught, destroyed, and I don’t remember what I was hearing or seeing.

February turned to March, and there was more snow and more trips and the doctors and nurses knew me by name and the Black Keys, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash had joined the soundtrack of my trip along with Dark Night of the Soul. Two days before my father died Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse) shot himself.

“Our souls / Time slippin’ by / I call out your pain / All alone / Shadows movin’ / Shadows movin’ / Shadows have long gone by / Dark night of the soul”… words, they haunt you more if you place them into your own context. They take on meanings that the writer never had. I slip further in thought.

Like Chesnutt, Linkous music had meant a lot to me. It had seen me through some good and bad times… and there should have been more. Both had put out an amazing repertoire of tunes and suddenly – like my parents, they were gone.

When the hell everything turned to shit I don’t know, but when my mourning turned into a full out depression, I got help. That was four years ago.

“Daddy’s Gone” spins on the turntable. A tear drops. Not for my parents… it’s for my kids. Cancer doesn’t just rob the sick of life; it steals time from the living; it steals focus away from happiness and places it squarely in survival mode. Caregivers and their families endure but those too young to understand see smiles slip away when heads turn from their eyes to look upon the photos on the wall. Funny, was I just describing cancer or depression?

Every few months I listen to this record and it takes me to places to important to forget. The emotional resonance just pulls me in and washes over me. Then, for a short time, I mourn again, and then I move on.

Last weeks Playlist! March 1/ 2015

Of course I love vinyl more than any other form of music listening, but sharing music is also fun… so… if you’re doing that Spotify thing, each week I plan to publish a playlist with some tunes I’ve been playing around the house. I’ll be updating this with a bit of info as this post is a bit of a test to see how the playlist looks on the blog. Or you can friend DS Barrett on Facebook where the playlist will show up first. Anyway, here it goes – March 1/15 Playlist Hope you enjoy!

  1. “Cherry Bomb” – The Runaways

Was listening to a lot of Joan Jett this past week as I got her Greatest Hits on (cherry bomb red) vinyl a few days ago. I decided to put the Runaways version on simply because I really wish I had it on vinyl. Maybe some day… Still can’t believe that a sixteen year old kid (Cherie Currie) could pull off that much power and venom.

  1. “In The Street” – Big Star

What was it that Westerberg sang about Alex Chilton – “I never travel far without a little Big Star”. This is an alternate version of the song taken from the documentary Nothing Can Hurt Me.  By the way, loving this song has nothing to do with That 70’s Show, but then again, it doesn’t hurt it either.

  1. “Stutter” – Elastica

I love the female perspective on this song. Probably because every girl I ever dated had to pretty much smack me in the head to get me to figure out they were interested. “What… you’re actually talking to me (gasp, gulp) um… nice weather.”

  1. “Substitute” – The Ramones

Awesome rendition of the Who classic from their covers record Acid Eaters. I got it as a Christmas gift from my birth mother, which makes me love it all the more.

  1. “Stone Cold Crazy” – Queen

For some reason more people seem to be familiar with the Metallica version, which is funny because I thought Motley Crue had covered it… anyway – this is the original from Sheer Heart Attack, which I picked up used a few weeks back.

  1. “Kindergarten” – Zeus

The song that turned me on to this band. Frickin love these guys.

  1. “Bleed A Little While Tonight” – The Lowest Of The Low

Pretty much said it all when I wrote about them a little while back.

  1. “déjà vu” – Mo Kenney

My wife and I were talking one night and we had the TV satellite playing music for us when this came on. I think I might have actually ‘shssh-ed’ her while I scrambled for a pen and paper. Mo Kenney was a staple around the house for a few months after that.

  1. “Milwaukee” – The Both

Love Aimee Mann and Ted Leo and this song brings out the best in both. The music video is pretty funny as well.

  1. “I Am The Cosmos” – The Posies

Wish I could find the Beck cover of this song. I know he did it during the “Sound & Vision” session back in 2013. Anyway, this Posies cover of Chris Bell is quite awesome.

  1. “Daddy’s Gone” – Sparklehorse & Danger Mouse

Have tried writing about this song and album a few times. 2009-2010 was the worst year of my life. I spent a lot of time driving the two hours between my parent’s house and my home when both fell ill in 2009. Dark Night of the Soul was keeping me company a whole lot during those trips and “Daddy’s Gone” had me thinking about where I wasn’t.

  1. “Can’t Cry Hard Enough” – Victoria Williams

Funny story. I was at the concert when this was recorded. I yelled out a request for “This Moment”. After explaining that she had never played it live before – she did it anyway. The album it’s taken from is (drum roll) This Moment: Live In Toronto.

  1. “Hummingbird” – Imaginary Cities

In March of 2010 I went to see the Pixies at Massey Hall in Toronto. Imaginary Cities opened the show. They were phenomenal. I’m sure I’ll be writing about them soon.

  1. “All The Young Dudes” – David Bowie

It isn’t that the Mott The Hoople and Bowie versions are all that different… I just like how Bowie seems to perform songs rather than simply sing them… discuss if you must.

  1. “Nausea” – Beck

Some songs just make me and my kids rock out as we drive from point A to B. Beck has quite a few songs that get us doing the Wayne’s World head nod thing.

  1. “Bull in the Heather” – Sonic Youth

With Kim Gordon doing the publicity thing for her new book Girl In A Band, I’ve found myself pining for the 90’s version of Sonic Youth. Oddly enough, I always preferred her songs.

  1. “Pumping On Your Stereo” – Supergrass

Please don’t tell anyone, but I kinda liked Brit-Pop… and I really got into Supergrass for a while.

  1. “Spectacular” – Graham Coxon

Speaking of Brit-Pop… another song about a boy fantasizing over a picture in a magazine. Makes me yell at my stereo – “Dude – your lead guitarist for fuckin’ Blur… as if you couldn’t get her number and ask her out for coffee!”

  1. “Wave of Mutilation (Peel Sessions) – Pixies

Sooner or later I’ll get around to writing about Doolittle 25. This was the tour I caught back in 2010 and Kim Deal was still in the band. Not sure it would be a true Pixies concert without her.

  1. “Limitless” – Dust Galaxy

Heard this on a magazine compilation a few years ago, then I had to spend a few weeks tracking down the who, what, where and why and order the damn CD online. Dark and sinister rock…