The Unforgiven

Album: Awaiting Redemption (1999)

Songfacts®:

  • In our Songfacts interview, Hal Ketchum confides that this song is a personal story of alcoholism: "'Unforgiven' is really my story. If I drink it all goes south. Always has, always will. I have a litany of situations that applies to. I have a chemical in my brain called PHIQ, and if I have a drink, I must have more. It's just out of my hands. And if I would only play the tape all the way to the end, I wouldn't get in some of these scrapes I get into." (Check out the full Hal Ketchum interview)
  • The above self-diagnosis, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, is actually a reference to THIQ, for the chemical tetrahydroisoquinoline. It was supposed at one time that, as a natural secondary amine, it played a role in alcoholism. The jury's still out on that theory, but so far laboratory rats given an injection of THIQ tend to prefer alcohol over water.
  • As for "The Unforgiven," Ketchum relates that the incident that sparked the lyrics was an occasion when he'd been sitting out on a window ledge at night "like a hawk" for six hours straight.

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