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Issue 37 - Two sides of the emotional coin

Whisky Magazine Issue 37
February 2004


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Two sides of the emotional coin

Dave Broom on good times and bad times with whisky

Mixed emotions on the way to Tokyo this year. I'd just heard of Elliot Smith's suicide and one of the lines in his song Miss Misery: “I'll fake it through the day with some help from Johnnie Walker Red” kept looping through my mind.

To be honest it had been nagging away for some months as part of my tracking of whisky's darker side: trying to discover the drink that gives solace to the heartbroken, the lost and the fearful.

I'd been rereading Bukowski, listening to ancient blues and country and bringing things up to date with new American artists typified by Smith, people who love the old traditional music, but also pop; whose work speaks of universal themes of separation, anxiety, love and misunderstanding and all the strange paradoxes of life.

The things that whisky can ease, though rarely solve. Why, I wondered, had this drink become the signifier for all of this? You don't get vodka or beer or tequila written about in such a manner.

There's little chance of the finished piece appearing on these pages I know, but I'll keep logging them away. It might be because, as my wife has long believed, I'm just a miserable Glaswegian, but there might just be something significant lurking in there.

A strange way to arrive in a country which I've come to love, but in some ways it's best to be slightly confused in Japan. After all, what we take as surreal is perfectly normal to the Japanese. Don't understand? Try these.

Example 1: The feeling was one of total serenity. We'd si...

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