Walk into the Sea

“I could walk into the sea
And choke away the memory
Do I have to stay alive
Just to keep our dresses white?

You come to me in dreams
With all the other pretty things
You tell me about a Savior
And how the soul lives on forever

And time is just a hunger
It bleeds us out to nothing
And when it finally takes us over
I hope we’ll float away together

Yeah, time’s the great destroyer
Leaves every child a bastard
When it finally takes us over
I hope we’ll float away together”

From “Walk Into The Sea” by Low

Low are one of my favorite bands.  I hold them in such high regard musically and in terms of how they seem to conduct themselves in the music business.  I was saddened to hear of the difficulties lead singer Alan Sparhawk was going through a few years back, but given my recent feed of posts on the importance of John Peel, I thought I’d include another story in which his legacy lives on… 

I have seen Low play live more times than I remember.  I am so glad Alan has sought help and battled his demons and I think of this story every time I see them.  I think of the importance of his music to me and countless others.  I think of his wife, Mimi and their two kids.  I think of all the good causes he champions.  Life can be real dark at times, but I think we both believe in a saviour… 

Low’s Alan Sparhawk cancels tour because of mental instability


Get well, Alan. We’re all big fans.

From the band’s messageboard [Via OneLouder]:
dear friends,the following is a lot of sentences starting with “i”. i’ve heard this is bad form and it tends to paint a very egocentric picture of the writer. good thing i’m a musician…

low has to cancel the shows we have booked in may and june – perhaps beyond. i have always tried to extend true respect to the fans of our music. it would be very easy to just cancel without proper explanation, and hope that the rumors tipped our way, perhaps adding to some crafted mystique. but, i’m a coward and i’ll leave that to the true artists.

i have not been very mentally stable for the last while. due to this, touring at this time has become too much of a burden on everyone involved. my current problems and instability create undue and unnecessary stress for everyone close to me, especially on the road, so despite coming back from several months of shows we have thoroughly enjoyed playing and being a part of, i have to respect their best judgment. those last several months have been some of the hardest to live through, and it is too much to ask those around me to have to put up with that any more.

for those of you who cling to details and think information is power; i have been speculated/diagnosed with everything from post-traumatic stress disorder, ADHD, bipolar whatever, suicidal depression/anxiety (“here’s some pills, call me if you are still alive next week – oh, wait, sorry, your small business insurance plan doesn’t cover all this…”), to paranoia, laziness, OCD, and good old-fashioned two-faced asshole-ness. i know – “big deal, who doesn’t have problems? you have a great and easy life! how bad can it be!?!” i wish i was a better person, and i’m working on that, much in the same way everyone else does. unfortunately, for one reason or another, that battle for me right now abruptly demands some drastic effort, sacrifice, and change – and that’s just to stay in the game… i feel like i’ve come through the worst of it, by there’s nothing uglier than lips speaking vain promises, so forgive me if i’m reluctant to be the cheerleader this time. i need to get healthy, and it’s apparent that something about touring right now is doing more damage than good.

several months ago, amid a couple “bad days”, i found myself standing in front of a photo of John Peel, on the wall outside one of the BBC studios on london. the image of his face in this photo is an image that exposes fools. i was ashamed to even look into his eyes. still, seeing his calm, wise face made me realize i had been letting my own selfish battle with sanity get in the way of the gift of music that i and we all are so privileged to be even a small part of. my thoughts raced.


i remembered being in the man’s home and meeting his family. if there has ever been an example of a selfless man, he surely was/is. yet, it hurt more than looking at the sun than to look at him on some piece of paper!?!… in that instant, i knew i was a fool, and that i had become the enemy. to many this may sound like a very weird and/or dangerous realization, but i have a feeling that that moment will be one i will look back upon someday as “where things changed.” – where the eclipse peaked and began to wane. God bless the DJ.it breaks my heart. i love playing music and i love being able to play it for people, but i love the people i play music with the most. do the math. you have been so kind to us and the people we work with have been patient and selfless through all this, so despite complete faith that everyone probably understands and at least respects our decision, i still wish to extend my deepest apologies to all.
now, to wrap this up, a word or two regarding the individual inconvenience and monetary loss involved: i know this sounds a bit assuming but, in a cosmic, semi-mentally-ill way, i feel every subway fare spent to go downtown to buy and now refund the tickets, every plan made and day worked extra so the day of the low show would be open, every broken heart that was looking forward to feeling my righteous guitar riffs up close and live, and every dollar that will have to come out of the pockets of the promoters of all these shows (i’m serious… despite all the sleazy stuff that goes on the music biz, most of the promoters we work with are very honest people who are not getting rich off what they do, but they still do it because they love music and the community they live in… please go easy on ’em.)

thank you, and again, i am very sorry. i suggest that instead of going to the low show, go for a walk with a friend or two that day – somewhere where there’s trees or rocks and dirt or plants. i plan to do the same, each of those days, right here in beautiful duluth… or at the funny farm – who knows? either way….

and please please please go out and get the M.I.A. cd!

peace be with you.

g. alan sparhawk


4 Responses to “Walk into the Sea”

  1. 1 exactscience October 29, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Mental illness/instability is the suck.
    The most important thing though is the realisation that you need to do something about and it feels a lot like he is.

  2. 2 thestatethatiamin October 29, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Something you said in one of your recent posts recalled this story to mind…

  3. 4 thestatethatiamin October 29, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    I guess just the whole question of eternity and whether suicide results in eternal damnation? I remember seeing Low on “The Great Destroyer” tour and hearing them play the song “Walk Into The Sea” and suddenly the lights came on for me. As Alan sang, “Do I have to stay alive just to keep our dresses white?” I realised he was asking whether suicide would result in a loss of salvation? That was before I knew anything of his own persinal battles with mental illness. It all unravelled in the following months for him and at that point I read the article I posted on my blog.

    I guess just reading your recent posts and thinking of John Peel led me to think back to this article. Having a close friend who’s Dad commited suicide when she was 16 and seeing how it affects her and her mother all these years on – the void that remains, witnessing the pain our congregation felt at the tragic death of a four year old last year, just musing about what life is like for those left behind and how thankful I am for those who manage to keep battling forward even when wrestling with all these huge issues and urges…

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"The priest in the booth had a photographic memory for all he had heard. He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called "The State That I'm In"". From "The State I Am In" by Belle and Sebastian
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