Friday night while doing my best rat in a cage impression on an elliptical machine, I read in Rolling Stone that over 60% of their survey participants said “listening to music” would be their choice if faced with just one leisure activity. I guess it depends how “leisure activity” is defined and on the survey demographics. Readers of “Astounding B Monster” or “The Electric Playground” may not have opted for simply sonic spare time… Regular readers of this space know music has been a regular inspiration of words here, second only to my primary muse. I’m not sure what my third one is… Maybe just vanity venting like the sign says.
Anyway, at about the 49 ½ minute mark of my workout mix, the Drive By Truckers “After the Scene Dies” (lyrics by Patterson Hood) welcomed me into the final third of my ½ hour cardio kick. The grinding beat pushed me on, but the words pulled me down and reminded me of one sad fucking soul.
“The graffiti on the back stage wall gets painted over in muted shade
The club becomes an Old Navy
After the scene dies”
“I gotta change my scene.” He used to say that thirty years ago to describe life changes he thought necessary. His “scene” was metaphor for his life and even back then it was one muted by drinking, smoking, inhaling or injecting various poisons that would blur the perceived horror of reality.
“When the last six-string slinger has to bow down for health insurance
and accept the mundane
After the scene dies”
Over the years, partying acquaintances eventually settled down and had to leave his “scene” that wasn’t progressing. One by one, even the hardest partiers achieved some level of clarity and moved on. Not “the scene” though. That season’s lowlight was a hallucinogenic powered one on eight battle with the local town police conducted from the top of the station’s main entry desk.
“When the last one leaves and the last note fades and the last dream’s been put away
Shut the light off / Shut the light off”
Something moved me to open a door that otherwise was ignored so many mornings before. The pale, shaking body was headed toward permanent lights off. A bottle of pills indicated the last dream had been put away. EMT’s and narcan kept the scene alive that day, but began to squeeze the life from others in it.
“When the front man turns to Jesus and the drummer moves away
I’ll still be doing what pleases me
After the scene dies”
“Jesus loves you” was inscribed in crayon and illustrated with the desperate scribbles of a mind stuck back when the abuse began, and a body incarcerated from a toxin fueled rage. Not long after release, Jesus went back to the sidelines and “the scene” went back to only what pleased him.
“When the bartender passes and the owner cashes out
And they box up the glasses and take the sound system down
Guitars back in their cases
Don’t forget my fries
After the scene dies”
Life recently took an old friend long gone from “the scene” and the long tolerant employer finally said “enough.” The sad “scene” reality show is now essentially played out from the proverbial “mother’s basement” and shows no direction for a new season, except for the episode when the stress of “the scene” takes its final toll on Mom.
“Whatcha gonna do when the club shuts down
After the scene dies?”
I worry about what’s going to happen when that scene dies.

After The Scene Dies