July 25 — I FEEL ALRIGHT, Steve Earle (1996)

IMG_1911Ten years ago today I finally did it. I quit drinking. To some, it seemed sudden. Not to me.

For at least a decade, I had known I needed to quit. There was no slowing down for me, no “cutting back.” I didn’t have an off-switch and I knew the only way to control it was to quit entirely. So after yet another all-night bender in St. Louis, I woke up and told myself — again — that I needed to quit. Or at least stop for a while.

One day turned into two, which turned into a week, which turned into a month. Soon, I had a streak going. It was hard at first, especially socially. Drinking had been my identity. It was how I coped, and how I celebrated, and how I dreamed and escaped.

Today, ten years later, I can’t imagine going back. This song has always been my anthem for quitting. Steve Earle himself spent several years drunk, high on heroin or cocaine or pot, or, for a few years, in prison. When he re-emerged, clear headed, he came busting through the gate with this album and this song — defiant, proud, unapologetic, and not about to let sobriety soften him. He has created his best work — music, production, screenplays, short stories, lectures, advocacy — for nearly two decades.

As the New Yorker said, it’s as if he’s making up for lost time. Thank you, Steve Earle, for the inspiration. I feel alright. You’re damn right I do.



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