Blue Mountain – It’s not all over now, baby blue
On those days when it is possible to believe that art matters, it is also necessary to remember what it costs:
Every last damn thing. Yes, it is possible to win big, to become an international sensation, to have other people pay your bills, to be free to create (and to be crippled by that freedom), to enjoy the adulation of the masses and other intoxicants. To make it. It is possible.
It is far more likely that you will discover your muse to be a mean bitch, and your one true love. She will never tell you the truth, will always seduce you with the delusion that your talent is somehow enough (or not enough, depending), will torture you with the addictive rush of creation, and will walk out on you when needed most. And if she’s really good at her job, your muse will leave you fit for no other line of work.
Anyway, she doesn’t speak for the marketplace, that cruel, evil bastard, and his boots are wet with broken hearts.
It is difficult to imagine why anybody would chase such dreams, save for the young and bold, and the foolish. The smart thing, as the years play out, is to give up, to give in, to repudiate the choices and values of youth, to get on with what other people call life.
The smart thing. Yeah, right.
Sometimes life smarts. Laurie Stirratt and Cary Hudson no longer have a recording contract, nor a marriage, nor even a steady drummer. That sounds worse than it is, probably, for they have managed to hold onto what seems most important to them: Blue Mountain is still a band, Laurie and Cary remain musical partners, and their new album is about to be released.
Blue Mountain’s fifth, in fact, if one counts an early self-released offering. Roots, a gutty collection of century-old songs, will emerge in late February. It will be theirs to own, to sell, to climb in the van and play through the smoke of the next few months.
Today Laurie and Cary sit at opposite ends of a stranger’s couch, and though they’ve played together twelve years, this part is suddenly new again and slightly uncomfortable. Shy, almost, for their boundaries have changed. So they watch kittens frolic, fiddle with nearly empty cans of beer, and count their blessings.
“Cary and I are both so grateful to be able to still be doing this,” Laurie says with a minimum of fuss. “You look at the bands that were such great bands that just couldn’t make it through, for one reason or another. I hope we can go on for a long time. I want to do this for the rest of my life. So you’ve got to feel lucky, in some ways.” And she laughs, just for that moment.
“I’m 33, Cary’s 37,” she adds, alone on another day. “I had just turned 21 when I started playing with Cary and my brother, John. And then we started Blue Mountain. I really, honestly thought, ‘Well, by the time I’m 33, I’m going to have this, and this, and this.'” She laughs briefly, without rancor.
“I never expected to be a star or anything like that, but I had expectations of where our career would be at this point. There have been disappointments. You know, I don’t own anything except a car and my possessions. I don’t own a house, things like that, things that start to scare you when you get to a certain age. Where is my security going to come from, you know?”
“I guess because I live in Mississippi, I’ve always made a decent living,” says Cary. “I’ve never worked another job, and I’ve managed to buy a house. But you do start asking yourself those questions, and you either come up with the right answers or you go looking for something else to do. But, for me, it’s still incredibly fun.”
“I guess I’m a masochist,” Laurie says. “I can’t help but think that if we keep the quality of the music up, if we really do what’s true to our hearts, what’s sincere, then I think there’s going to be some kind of payback. I’ve already had payback. Not material payback, not money, not the things I thought I would have, but I’m really proud of what we’ve done.”