5 years ago, today, I received the phone call that I knew was coming and thought I was ready for. I really wasn’t. The man I called brother, James, had lost his battle with the demons he had. All of us who know this battle, and there are definitely too many of us, as this damn disease of addiction has touched way too many of us, know that this call is probably coming one day. I miss James. We had a complicated relationship, and I tried real hard from the time we were little kids, to be there for him. I loved him. He was my brother. But I did turn my back on him those last months, after I realized what he was doing again and knew I just couldn’t go through it with him this time, or again. So I told him that. I said “James, I can’t do this anymore. We are too old for this. I have too much to do, too much to take care of. I can’t do this, I won’t do this. You have to do this yourself or it won’t get done”. He did what he always did to me, even when I was helping him, he screamed at me, accused me of thinking I was better than him, that no one loved him and everyone hated him. I told him none of that was true and had never been true, but it didn’t matter, because I knew he convinced himself of that to make it easier on himself to do what he did. So, we never spoke again, although he did send me an apology through Facebook the week before he od’d. I had cried for him so many times in our lives. I cried that day after he screamed at me, because I knew. I knew it was the last time. I cried today. I miss him.
For those of us that don't have the gene of addiction, or at least aren't predisposed to it, it's hard to understand. I have a lot of feelings about it, because I grew up with it all around me. Alcoholism, drug addiction, abuse. Most of it seemed pretty normal to us I guess. When you're young it doesn't always register. And for some, it's all that does.
So, I guess when James passed I realized a few things. One, I had been writing songs all my life about him, us, our family. What we had been through. What we saw. What we heard. It wasn't all bad of course. As a matter of fact, it was pretty damn good for the most part I think. We didn't miss much. Didn't want for a lot. But, it was there. And I wrote about some of it. Good and bad.
Two, I realized that for the most part, James never grew past it. For whatever reason, he couldn't. He was never comfortable with who he was, no matter all the macho posturing, he was just that little boy who was scared, sitting in the hall of the trailer at 2am, hitting his head on the wall and crying "nobody loves me". He was 7. I never forgot that. I never will.
So, this album that I've been working on for the past couple of years, which is a long time in the music industry unless you're GnR, it's called St. James. It's about James. It's about addiction. It's about excuses and truth. It's about West Virginia, and liars and thieves that wear suits and sit in gold domed buildings. It's about boredom. But it's mostly about love. The love I have for my brother. My state. My friends and family who have lost this battle. There are so many. It's like a war zone here sometimes. A lot of times. Towns that were vibrant and alive when we were kids, just ghost towns now. Derelict. Overgrown. Full of ironweed. And guilt. And lies. And death. And hope. No one can win this war for us, there is no savior coming. We either do it ourselves or it's not going to happen. I hope we can. I hope.
I miss my brother. Every day.
James Anthony Sizemore
May 20 1969- July 12 2018
You never played the rebel well.