Day 142: S.f.M – Jason Isbell’s “Cover Me Up”

by Tom Noonan

On his second detour from marquee project Drive-By Truckers, Jason Isbell trades in pavement-pounding hooks for wounded, spotlit confessionals.  The album, titled Southeastern, stays true to its titular coordinates and features one of the more powerful accounts of battling addiction in its opener, “Cover Me Up”.   A song that initially masks disease in the type of nostalgia Keith Richards gets book deals to write on, “Cover Me Up” separates itself by dwelling ultimately on the bitter residue left over after the battle is won.  When Isbell sings, “Put your faith to the test/When I tore off your dress/In Richmond, all high/I sobered up/And swore off that stuff/Forever this time”, you don’t exactly believe him, but you want to.  By the end of the song, you’ve become the victim of his disease because all you want is for his promise of, “Cover me up/And know you’re enough/To use me for good”, to be true.  You want the war to be over, even though somewhere in the back of your head, just off screen, you know there’s no such thing as peace time anymore.  Sometimes music can do this; it can understand the emotional impact of chemical reactions in some guy’s brain.  It might even change the way those chemicals react.

Listen to the tremendous “Cover Me Up” below: