Drinking, Fighting, Fucking and Crying Title

Drinking, Fighting, F*&king, and Crying

tombstoneThe day they put my friend Aaron in the ground was the day that I learned the power of Amazing Grace when played by Bagpipes.

2000. I don’t remember the month, or the day. I was in a fugue. I had almost hung out with Aaron the night he died, had called him that Friday to invite him to go see a new band I’d just picked up the debut album by, a group called High on Fire I’d heard compared to Ozzy-era Sabbath. I was excited. They were playing Chicago’s legendary Double Door. Aaron seemed excited too. He almost went. But he didn’t.

The next day I got the call that he was dead.

Previously, Amazing Grace hadn’t ever really moved a needle with me. A trite song I 100% took for granted due to all the times I’d heard it at parades and on tv and wherever the hell else cultural detritus washes up on the shore of our society, I’d never really felt the power of this traditional until I stood by the lip of my friend’s grave and watched friends and strangers lower him into the Earth, a dozen or so men playing this number on the bagpipes. It was world-shattering.

Maybe I’m mis-remembering and it was only half a dozen men on the ‘pipes, or maybe it was only one. I’m unsure. Again, I don’t use the word fugue-state lightly. Everything and everyone around me were fringe and apparitions. What I am sure about is how unearthly the power of that melody is when played with the haunting, airy sustain of the bagpipes. It’s an enormous sound, and it absolutely consumed me with its power, tearing massive sobs from me; not just tears, but honest to goodness, full-on racking sobs. They ran through my body, left my stomach and facial muscles sore, threatened my oxygen supply.

In reality, I wasn’t just crying for Aaron; I’d lost my best friend Jake two years before and knew all along I hadn’t completely grieved for him yet. Aaron’s death – caused by the same illicit substance as Jake’s – brought it all out, especially as Amazing Grace droned into my bones. Jake died in 1998 from Heroin. Aaron – not a user but the victim of either a one-time dalliance or, as one friend in our extended group suggested, someone who slipped him an intentional surprise instead of his beloved cocaine – was 2000. I’d lose one more friend the same way four years later. And to this day, Amazing Grace played on bagpipes still shreds my defenses and leaves me a quivering shell. Because inside of its drone, what I hear is a wordless refrain that very powerfully indoctrinates me into a merciless cosmic truth.

There are consequences for even the smallest of our actions.

Next week: Drinking.

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

One Response to Drinking, Fighting, F*&king, and Crying
  1. Tommy Reply

    Wow. This was personal and heavy. Thank you for sharing it.

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