You’re an on-the-run western outlaw who’s finally been caught by the long and persistent arm of the law, a metaphorical appendage in this case represented by a leathery old sheriff, who has decided that rather than take you back to jail, he’s just going to hang you out here in the woods on that ominous tree right over there and there’s nothing you can do about it. However, revealing himself to be not such a terrible guy, he’s going to play a song as you cinematically walk towards to the noose, and he’s going to let you choose whatever song you want, and you want it to be the most fitting song in the world for this situation, because you’re going to die, but at least you can look cool/get the mood right. So what song do you choose? There are only two correct answers: (1) a recording of a sustained, extremely high note played at such a decibel level as to knock the sheriff over and allow you to steal his gun and escape or, (2), Fear No Pain by Willy Mason.
The beauty of Fear No Pain is that it isn’t trying to be anything other than what it is: a gracile folk song. Its straight-ahead skeletal drumbeat and bluesy guitar picking aren’t there to overwhelm, and they don’t, they just hold you in place while Mason blasts you with the steady sledgehammer of his voice. And blast he does. When he sings that he, “ain’t gonna fear no pain anymore,” you believe him, and you know you won’t fear no pain anymore, either. You will, of course, but for one waning moment, you’re both right.
Mason is a direct descendant of William and Henry James, renowned philosopher and novelist, respectively, which not only gives you an idea of his lyrical prowess, but also explains the ballad I Am A Direct Descendant of William And Henry James. Fear No Pain is from his earliest album, Where The Humans Eat, but his latest album, Carry On, has plenty of great stuff on it, too.