The recording of "I Can't Tell the Difference Anymore" on "Ernest Evans Hussalonia" is very minimalist; it includes nothing more than voice, guitar, and the same voice overdubbed at a certain point to create a one-man duet. I may as well stop adding to my list of favorite tracks; at this rate, nearly all of them will end up on there if I do.
The first, most striking thing about the recording is that lovely background noise, which, if I'm not mistaken, is the cassette tape hum. I happen to be old enough to remember using cassette tapes as a primary format for music-listening, and I have a nostalgic fondness for that kind of sound the way many people who are older than I am have a fondness for the hiss and crackle of records (in recent times I've bought a few records myself, and I've discovered a fondness for that sound as well). The official album descriptions that of the tracks that comprise it, created between 2000 and 2003, some were recorded on Tascam 4 track cassette. I know little of the technical side of music production (nor, really, any side of it) but this sounds to me like it is one of those cassette recordings. In any case, I find the resulting sound most endearing.
A night-time ride, a warning to keep hands and arms inside the vehicle (despite having nothing left to lose, a line that seems at first funny to me, and then intriguing, and then sad), and falling asleep are the primary images that stick out to me in the song. I particularly love the description of the narrator's head cutting through "the starry night, like a speedboat does to water." It is an effective bit of imagery, one that really takes me into the action described in the song (though I haven't figured out what the vehicle referred to is supposed to be; it may be obvious to anyone else).
The overdubbing of another voice track onto the primary one during the asking of questions ("Is this love or is this depression?") could potentially break the intimacy of the song, yet it fits perfectly. The questions asked are followed by a comment at the very end, not really an answer, and it is the title phrase. That is where the song ends. It is a sad and beautiful ending to a sad and beautiful song.
This is one of those songs that seems to be intended to capture a moment and a mood, one of those little everyday instants that, due to some external reminder or just some wandering thought, brings to mind a memory that inspires a mood, or else just the mood itself. It is the sort of moment that, melded to that mood or feeling, sticks out in your memory for years afterwards, perhaps for the rest of your life. It might reoccur but, if not in the same place, then likely you will only remember that first time in that original location. Riding through the night, a passenger, falling asleep, stars above you, and some strained and maybe painful sense inside you, some conflict, all of this comes together, each thing meshed with every other, and it crystallizes in your memory. I can't help but feel a sense of admiration and gratitude to an artist who can capture one of these often-unspoken occurrences in a work, and especially in a song so unassumingly simple. As retrained as it appears to be in terms of production, it is incredibly rich in feeling, in emotion.
I would say that it is a fairly sad thing to imagine one who has lost the difference to tell the difference between love and depression, yet it isn't difficult to imagine at all. I may have been there myself once before, some years ago. It is difficult to remember these things, no matter how intense they may have once been, if something in particular doesn't inspire remembrance.
With this entry, I am at the halfway point in writing about "Ernest Evans Hussalonia" and that means that I am at the halfway point of the first album that this little blog has ever covered! Though often a challenge, I am finding this blog a pleasure to write. I look forward to the next seven songs and beyond!