9. Elephant – Jason Isbell

How do you write a song about accompanying a close friend who is in the process of dying of cancer, yet retain a sense of humour—albeit it a dry, gallows humour—about it?

Well, if you’re Jason Isbell, this is how. It is the opinion of Threehundredsongs that Jason is among the very finest living songwriters. And it’s my site, my rules so you’ll have to deal with it.

When she was drunk, she made cancer jokes
Made up her own doctors’ notes
Surrounded by her family, I saw that she was dying alone

It’s difficult to select a lyric, let along to add many of my own words, since the song is basically perfect in every possible way from start to finish, but:

If I’d fucked her before she got sick
I’d never hear the end of it
She don’t have the spirit for that now
We just drink our drinks and laugh out loud
And bitch about the weekend crowd
And try to ignore the elephant somehow

You’ll just have to listen to it yourself I guess.

There’s one thing that’s real clear to me
No one dies with dignity
We just try to ignore the elephant somehow

Artist: Jason Isbell
Album: Southeastern
Writer: Jason Isbell
Producer: Dave Cobb
Released: 2013; Southeastern Records

All lyrics © 2013 Southeastern Records/Jason Isbell.

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