Why “Losering”?

In interviews and at readings, one question that always comes up is what Ryan thinks of the book (and at this point, your guess is as good as mine). But not far behind in frequency is this:

Why did you call the book “Losering”?…

Well, a couple of reasons. First, I’ve always thought “Losering” was a cool word, and I liked the sound of it as a tone-setter. Second, it’s a key track on Strangers Almanac, the definitive album for Whiskeytown as well as Ryan. And third, “Losering” is a great song that builds quietly from a twangy little guitar riff (kissin’ cousin to “Suspicious Minds”) on up to a stomp-along rocker.

But none of that addresses what it actually means. That’s a good question, because “Losering” has lyrics that are spare and mysterious enough to make the song open to interpretation. Here’s mine: “Losering” describes two people waiting each other out (“patiently”) and trying to decide if they’re going to commit, or part ways. They are, in essence, contemplating whether or not they’re willing to give up what they have in order to get what they want.

See what you have been losing, see what you have been

Throw in the catch-in-the-throat ache evoked by Ryan’s vocal, and I’d say it’s a perfect metaphor for his career. But that would be heavy-handed, wouldn’t it?

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One thought on “Why “Losering”?

  1. gveo

    Dear David—
    It’s a fabulous choice for a title. It’s a wonderful word and song. And DRA is at his best when he’s channeling the loser vibe, giving words and music to that human condition. Maybe he’s not in that phase now, spiritually or artistically, but he was in the Whiskeytown days and much of his post Whiskeytown days as well—even more so in many ways cause the substance abuse was really backing him into a corner, killing him.

    As for next to last post on DRA fans reaction to book, as you already do as critic, take it all with a grain of salt. I’ve “met” some really nice reasonable folks who are DRA fans but there are real oddballs too. When I was on the Superfan page a lot of us used to have a lot of fun just going on and on about details of the songs, swooning over dreamy shots of him, etc. Silly fun. Having done tons of that I felt it was safe to every once in a while to register something about a song or his behavior that I didn’t like so much—can’t even give you an example—but I would get into trouble! If you do a book on him it has to be good (I mean I assume that’s your standard) and to be good it has to portray the (often) contradictory complexity of the man. It’s not all pretty which is half of the appeal! So I bet you did get some criticism from superfans.

    Back to losering. I like its gerund aspect. A loser is a noun, a person but losering, also a noun, is an activity sort of, like fishing or parasailing. It’s so rich. Sit and Listen to the Rain seems like another perfect expression of losering (besides the song itself), someone who’s empty, feels numb, thinks of calling a friend or two he doesn’t know anymore, ie. losering I’d say. The antidote for Losering? Chin Up Cheer Up, such a happy tune!

    Cheers from sleety Philadelphia today –sharon

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