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A touching, sorrowful, achingly beautiful meditation on loneliness and heartbreak, Falling Down Blue, from the 1997 album Tremolo, showcased the band’s ability to move beyond pure country into something closer to soft jazz, the design of its immersively melancholy arrangement fully realized by immaculate (and immaculately recorded) musicianship, with lovely keyboard work, deft plucking of an upright bass, and subtle brushing of the cymbals putting the listener in mind of weary, sleepless nights spent full of regret in the empty rooms still haunted by her former presence. The story’s an old one, and the lyrics are all the more elegant for being so straightforward:

All right I miss you tonight
And I’m not really sure what to say
It keeps rolling in like a slow moving train
It gets harder and harder each day
Each time I think that the worst of it’s through
I am stopped in my tracks by some vision of you
All right I miss you tonight
I admit that I’m falling down blue

No hidden agenda here, and not a lot of subtext, save that you get the sense that the singer, bereft and probably knocking back his ninth shot of bourbon at three in the morning, understands deep down that this is all his own damned fault.

However it happened, and whoever’s to blame, when she left she took along with her a piece of him that was too big to lose. It’s not just that he’s lost. He’s never finding his way back home.

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