There is a song by Josh Ritter that tells the story of a 16th century explorer who had spent his life sailing the world’s oceans in search of new lands.
On what would be his final voyage, a quest to discover a new world in the Arctic, his beloved ship becomes irretrievably trapped in the ice. As the captain and his crew hold up in the belly of the ship, reluctantly burning it to stay alive, one by one each sailor finally loses his nerve to wait and to hope against all odds that they will be rescued, and abandons the ship on foot to set out across the featureless snowy iceberg, to his almost certain demise. In the end, only the captain remains and is finally rescued.
After that it got colder the world got quiet
It was never quite day or quite night
And the sea turned the color of sky turned the color
Of sea turned the color of ice
‘Til at last all around us was fastness
One vast glassy desert of arsenic white
And the waves that once lifted us
Sifted instead into drifts against Annabelle’s sides
The crew gathered closer at first for the comfort
But each morning would bring a new set
Of tracks in the snow leading over the edge
Of the world ‘til I was the only one left
Joel and I now find ourselves on our own working on the as yet unproven music project known as The Violet Lights. As I’m sure Josh Ritter’s captain would as readily admit, the prospects for our success are completely uncertain, so like the crew who couldn’t see a reason to hold on and hope they would be rescued, our former band mates are not unreasonable to be unwilling to risk what they already have in the name of a vision so tenuous. And as we’ve learned, trying to make a career out of making music, for some reason, doesn’t feel at all unlike slowly burning all other means of escape for a singular, precarious chance at success. How could we expect to encounter many who’d be up for that? Still, I can’t help but miss the sailors who decided their best bet was to set out across the ice.