As you know, almost all of the songs we write tell stories. We want to share those stories with you. We’ll post the story behind the story for each song on 13 here for you to read. The plan is to feature one song each week for the next 13 weeks.
Here is the story behind Time We Wasted as related by Clark Hansbarger.
The song “Time We Wasted”
Time We Wasted is the saddest of my “sad love songs” simply because it’s so close to home. The others are all fictional; this one is not so much.
About six years ago, my wife Leslie and I ended a long, fruitful, often joyful, and sometimes-not-so-joyful relationship that started when we were sixteen. We had grown up as a couple, traveling together through all the changes of our late teens, our twenties, our thirties, and our forties. It was quite a journey. We raised two fine children who are living their own lives now. Divorce opened new doors for us both and we continue to work as a family to be sure our children move forward securely in their adult lives. We do our best. Leslie and I are still close, and we ended our marriage without lawyers. Even still, divorce sucks. It’s destructive, even in the best of circumstances.
Time We Wasted is about that period when a couple faces the fact that something is irretrievably gone. It’s about looking for an exit that will do the least harm.
The opening line “Why break the dishes to call it quits?” captures the hope of a peaceful break. There will be damage enough; why make it worse?
I co-wrote this song with my daughter Kara, and I owe her many apologies and a few dollars for leaving her name off the credits. She is a remarkable singer and we perform together sometimes (including with the Bitter Liberals soon enough, see details below).
Anyway, we were up in Canada on the boundary waters with Ginger and her daughter Ginna. Each night after supper, we would strum and sing. I had written the chorus a few months before, and played it for them. My daughter said, “Damn, Dad. That’s sad,” and we took out pad and pen and wrote three or four verses, two of which stuck.
And then I put the song away.
A year later, when I began working with The Bitter Liberals, I blew the dust off the song and added the refrain—by far the saddest lines I’ve ever written. They sum up for me the tragedy of divorce when children are involved.
You and I have done the children stories and the lullabies.
You and I have done the finger pointing and the wondering why.
This is the paradox of love. Love is the very thing that draws us together and pushes us apart. It causes both the bliss and the grief. It seems so light, yet weighs so much. So very easy, and so very hard. An absolute necessity; not to be missed.
In August, our son Paul will marry his fiancé Jesi. We’re excited and very happy. The fact that divorce runs through both sides of this union hasn’t dampened our hopes and dreams for them. They are in love and determined to do their best. And they have a lot of folks cheering them on.
I still believe in marriage. In terms of my own divorce, I try to focus not on what was dissolved, but on what was created. Maybe it sounds trite, but the truth is nothing can change or take away the history and the memories, or even the love. It’s all still there, floating in our minds. In this sense, Time We Wasted is a song about change as much as loss. As one act of life ends, another opens, and hopefully, this part of the play will be as rich as the one that just finished.
SPECIAL NOTE: Kara Hansbarger will be singing with Clark’s roots rock band The Bastards of Twang on April 21, at 2:00 pm on the courthouse square during Leesburg’s Flower and Garden Show. And she may also join The Bitter Liberals for a song or two at our concert May 11 at The Franklin Park Arts Center in Purcellville.