It Gets Easier

Songfacts®:

  • Recovering alcoholic Jason Isbell reflects on his battles with booze during this bar room rocker. Isbell wrote the song for people who are wrestling with addiction and those who have been in recovery for a long time. He explained to Austin City Limits Live the refrain of "It gets easier. But it never gets easy" is one that will instantly resonate with anyone who continually struggles to remain sober. "I wanted to write for folks going through that. It's always right over your shoulder," he said.
  • The inspiration for the song came from Isbell reflecting on how it used to suck being an alcoholic. He recalled to Apple Music lying in bed one morning remembering the bad old days when he'd think, "Well, if I was just drunk, I could go to sleep." But then he realized he would wake up a couple hours later when the liquor wore off, feeling worse.

    Isbell added that it's important for him to recall the days when he was handicapped by his addiction and what actually happened back then, so he wrote this song where he revisits "emotions and memories from those times."
  • One of the "inside jokes" Isbell wrote with his fellow recovering alcoholics in mind is that he actually misses getting pulled over by traffic cops.

    Last night I did myself a favor
    I called in sick and went downtown
    Drove past the local bar
    A cop got behind my car
    I wish he would pull me over now


    Isbell explained to Variety: "There've been quite a few times when a cop will get behind me and I'll think, 'Okay, go for it, buddy! I've got all my papers together here. I know where my insurance card is.' That used to not be the case at all: I'd have to rummage through looking for everything, and more often than not, I would be a little bit drunk and start thinking, 'Well, how many did I have? How long has it been?'

    In a song like that, you do want to say something that's widely understood, but there also should be some details where people think, 'Oh, not everybody's going to get this,' because then they feel more heard themselves."
  • Jason Isbell gave up alcohol in 2012 after his now-wife Amanda Shires initiated an intervention. He recalls his last night drinking before getting sober on the Southeastern track "Cover Me Up."

    Another Isbell song inspired by his battle with the bottle is the tune he wrote for A Star Is Born, "Maybe It's Time."
  • The song contrasts the surrealistic imagery of the verses with a straightforward chorus.

    It gets easier, but it never gets easy
    I can say it's all worth it, but you won't believe me


    "That was the trick for me," Isbell told Uncut magazine. "Making it not about the recovery process, but making it about the experience of life rather than just being somebody who sings about recovering. I only want to be somebody who sings about life."

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