2001 – Don Chaffer – You Were At the Time For Love (released in 1994)

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Loneliness is something that doesn’t get mentioned very often when it comes to college life, but it’s an extremely common feeling for first year students. I’ve talked to a number of people who reported feeling very lonely during their freshman year before settling into a group of friends. I was one of these people myself. I spent a lot of time studying in that first year and there were many times that I felt very alone.

My method of coping with loneliness was driving. I was fortunate enough to have a car at school (a giant, red pickup truck with flames painted on it, actually) and I’m not sure what I would have done without it. I often climbed up into the cab and started driving. I explored the Twin Cities area pretty extensively. I would drive until I wasn’t sure where I was and then try to find my way back to campus. While I drove, I listened to music. The truck didn’t have a CD player, only a cassette deck, so I ended up listening to the radio a lot since I didn’t have any good cassettes with me at school.

Around Christmas of 2000, Waterdeep had a clearance sale in their online store that included cassette copies of Don Chaffer’s first solo album for $2 a piece. I figured I couldn’t go wrong with $2 and, after Christmas break, that cassette moved into my trucks stereo and virtually never left.

You Were At the Time for Love is an incredible album. Before Waterdeep became his main vehicle, Don Chaffer crafted this folky, reverb soaked gem of an album. The songs vary in focus from plaintive prayers to romantic pleas to melancholy stories. The recurring theme throughout is the desire to be truly known by someone, a desire I felt very strongly myself.

“Completely Known” tells of two sorrowful and hurt people who feel like life has nothing more for them. Then the songwriter’s voice enters telling of his own sorrows, but finally settling on the solution of dying and being reborn and living in the presence of the Lord.

The closing track was really the song that resonated with me then and still deeply affects me whenever I hear it. “The Worst is My Being Alone” relates a conversation between two people looking at the ocean. They share their very personal feelings on a matter that we, the listeners, don’t get to know. They confess that they don’t want to be free as much as they want to be known, yet when they reflect on their lives they each find that they are alone. This confession leaves both of them speechless and they begin to trudge away from the shore, only to turn back as the crashing waves sound like someone calling their names. The song ends on this ambiguous note, leaving the listeners to decide what it all means. It’s a beautiful song that washes over you and leaves you unsettled, but it’s perfect in that. I listened to this song sometimes three or four times in a row as I drove around the snow covered streets of the northern suburbs. I allowed myself to dwell on the loneliness and then release it as I drove back to my campus and my textbooks.

In this whole long series of albums, this is one that I am passionate about. It’s one that has to be heard in its entirety to be fully understood and appreciated. I highly recommend that you seek it out and let it simmer in your stereo for a few days. You won’t be disappointed.


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