Not For Sale ~ photo by: Cristel Brouwer

In a time of Isolation, Hope Still Remains. How ABIII Rings Truer Than Ever, Today.

“Sitting alone in the cold of the night, you’re trying to find what you need to survive.” The emotion of feeling afraid, reflecting upon love and keep hanging on then follow the opening lyric of ABIII‘s “Life Must Go On.” Four minutes and thirty-two seconds of a journey where you trek deeply through the a mud that is a mixture of both past and present hardships….that “only reminds you how broken you are.” It’s OK to acknowledge it, but then you have no choice but to pay no mind at all and keep rollin’.

In late 2010, Alter Bridge released their third record, appropriately titled, ABIII. Lyrically, it’s a collection of 14 songs that cut deeply and have the ability to swim through veins with a clear path in and out of the heart. The record opens with a haunting, atmospheric sound before singer, Myles Kennedy floats over-top softly layering, “Slip To The Void”. I recall seeing the band live on the ABIII tour. As the lights went down, a mist arises from the stage and over the rigs. That same haunting run hits the speakers before Kennedy takes the stage alone. Often draped in black, and in my case, also a black cap overshadowing his eyes he whispers, “Slip to the void…”

And so we begin. Isn’t that where we all are right now? Somewhere, in some way… there’s a void. Or maybe it’s more of a longing for the “Wonderful Life” as we knew it, where we are simply free to “Breathe Again”. A place where maybe this all is a dream, where we can not only see but embrace family members near and far.

The first time I interviewed Kennedy was prior to the release of Fortress, the record that followed ABIII. As our conversation neared the end, I had no choice but to tell Kennedy how much Alter Bridge’s previous record meant to me. It matched a lot of what I was experiencing back in late 2010, and Kennedy was kind enough to relay how much the record, lyrically, meant to him on a very personal level. Little did I know, 10 years later it would resonate louder, offering a sense of timelessness where the music not only pairs perfectly, but also makes sense in a time that makes very little sense.

So, we’ve been home for almost five months. No schools. No offices. No a lot of things. No live concerts. Our challenges, whilst in theory, not necessarily new in terms of sickness and systemic oppression, are greater than ever. They require a need for unity and understanding, where all people join hands to right paths that were navigated poorly while simultaneously carving new fundamental benchmarks to assure – none of this happens again. Not for us, not for our parents and mostly… not for future generations.

I hear children sing and playing games, and yet they don’t know that grownups really are just learning how to play this game, that growing up is learning on the spot how to deal with the unexpected. “Into the fire you fall, only you can make it right. Stand up and fight for us all if only you can make it right.”

Where I live, I am grateful and encouraged that the electric fence is starting to expand from the borders of my house to the borders of my state. But you still feel the shock. Still I know it hurts.

And then there are those lows of the day where you are “left to face this alone” because that’s what happens in commitment to one day at a time. There’s a comfort in a blanket of “We’re all in this together” and there’s a sinking where …a tireless stream of indifference flows.

“I no longer care, I have all but disposed
Of dreams that I once held inside
Desire is gone after all of these years
The fight has been lost, I concede
The apathy born a long time ago
Has grown to what I cant defeat
I’ve been here too long
I’m tired and longing for more
How long must I run
To find what I’m looking for.”

Still – that’s not to be taken as downer, you see, because the music understands. Sometimes more than people.

photo by: Cristel Brouwer

Then there’s “Coeur d’Alene” – a beautiful pacific northwest landscape where nothing stands in the way of nature. And that’s exactly how I feel / felt since March, that nothing is as empowering as a little sunshine and escape to the water, outside for a little vitamin D. Nature drunk and high.

ABIII closes with a song that holds strong as one of the most desired to be performed live (only once – Live at Royal Albert Hall in London with the Parallax Orchestra). I’m talking about “Words Darker Than Their Wings” – where Kennedy and guitarist, Mark Tremonti share the singing responsibility. In moments of darkness, they harmonize impeccably. Perhaps this piece represents that all things are possible in a melody where – “Into the light may you fall, into the light may you follow, into the light may you know… truth alone.” By the way – have you heard the live version of “Words Darker Than Their Wings”? As it winds down with the chill of the orchestra leading the glide, Kennedy rips an outro scream. The sounds of a standing ovation billowed out around the palace, and you realize – that’s it right there. It’s the emotion of how I think I feel… how I want to feel.

That brings us to present day, brings you to the end, until you love again … reflecting upon the one word where ABIII started – “Isolation”. The lead single was released weeks before the record came out and then fired up the charts like a Kennedy/Tremonti dueling guitar-off. Isn’t that the biggest struggle we’ve all been dealing with? The isolation? The sheer definition and furthermore, the confusion of being on an island in the dusk and dawn of the unknown. “You’re disconnected, so alone. You dare to dream but still you’re too afraid.” “If you could only see, what will come to be? ” Isolation. It’s the distance….. physically, metaphysically, mentally and the psychological distance. Where are you? Why aren’t you here? Why is this happening? How am I doing?


photo by: Cristel Brouwer

I’m doing OK and I hope you are, too.

Every morning on our Twitter feed I post a quote/lyric of the day. The intent is always to be uplifting and inspiring. On April 21st, I reworked the lyrics to “Isolation” and changed it to this for the post:

“Isolation, we’re socially distant so that we can rock again. Isolation, as hard as it may be, you just have to believe,yeah!”

Ten weeks later I can say, it was that moment where I began cranking ABIII in full to “Show Me a Sign”, and I now have this new appreciation for the messaging. Alter Bridge’s sincere and authentic intent again encouraged me, and made me realize that it is certainly possible for those reworked “Isolation” lyrics to ultimately be true.

Because the sun always sets, the moon always falls, it feels like the end, just pay no mind at all, and keep rollin’ rollin’…. life must go on.