Will Owsley - The Hard Way

Will Owsley - The Hard Way

It was 3 a.m. I was up working on a technical document – tired, but awake from cups of green tea.

Maybe it hit me more because it was late – the quiet of 3 a.m. where news cuts deeper somehow than 3 p.m. Or maybe it was the randomness of deciding to look through my CDs for something to listen to, and of all CD’s to pick his – Will Owsley.

I don’t remember why I had bought The Hard Way CD. He certainly wasn’t an artist I followed and knew all the lyrics to his music. He wasn’t the Bob Dylan or the Britney Spears of my digital tracks. I liked his work and knew he was talented, that was among the reasons why his CD came to rest in the plastic folds of my CD holder. But I obviously hadn’t picked up that CD in a while and somehow, it had never been digitized into the iTunes library of my computer.

Because I didn’t know much about him, as the first single played “Be With You”, I looked him up on my computer.

The search term “Owsley” brought up a Wikipedia entry on Owsley Stanley – a LSD underground cook – first. Obviously not what I was looking for, I re-did my Google search under his name – “Will Owsley” – instead.

The results of this search was more accurate and carried more truth than I had sought and expected to find. I was a seeking a continuing story, a life held in albums made and yet-to-come. Certainly not an end date.

It was 3 a.m. on May 9th, 2010. He had died April 30th 2010.

It was a nanosecond acknowledgment: he had passed on only a few days ago.

Immediately I wondered why, recalling a CD cover with a fairly young man among the the other covers nestled in my CD holder. Reading further, it was described as an “apparent suicide”. As his music played, an unintentional soundtrack to this news, I felt the sudden weight of his loss.

He was a man I didn’t know. He was a musician I hadn’t followed.

But knowing he was no longer here and listening to his songs, I felt the universal weight of finality and heard the stifling silence of an artist.

Still, his music played on…

“I wanna show you the rhythm and the roll/and take it into the center of my soul/I wanna run through the fields of your imagination…”
-Will Owsley, “Be With You”