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January 24, 2012

'I Loved You and I Hated You'

Ana Egge's haunting CD captures the feelings of those who have a mentally ill loved one

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Your picture's fallin' like a figurine
Breaking branches in our family tree . . .
I loved you and I hated you
I prayed for you and stayed away from you

So sings Ana Egge on the title cut of her latest album, Bad Blood. Many of the songs were written about coping with mentally ill family members, and I, for one, can certainly relate to the lyrics above.

Our 20-year-old son has bipolar disorder and Asperger syndrome, and his family members have certainly felt all of those things and more. It really can be a love-hate relationship -- intense love for the person, but intense hatred for the illness and the ugly, often hurtful, ways it manifests itself. Kudos to Egge for capturing many of those feelings.

A press release says that the album "conveys compassion and hope for redemption," and while that's certainly true, Egge also noted in one interview that it also captures her raw emotions. "There is some anger on this record," she confesses. "When you have family members suffering, I'm not angry at them. I have had a lot of anger at the illness, wanting it to stop, go away. A lot of the writing freed up for me when I started writing about the illness itself as a character."

Like many of us who love someone with a mental illness, Egge is trying to find that balance between loving the person but loathing the condition. These lines from "Hole in Your Halo" kind of capture that vibe:

Your flowers are growin' wild in the west
They may be pretty but they're poisonous
Behind the bars you're falling apart
It's not the first time you went too far

There's a hole in your halo
Where the darkness don't shine
In the darkness I know
It's a thin line

Egge's country-fied folk tunes, produced by Steve Earle, sound more upbeat than the subject matter they're addressing, but the lyrics are spot on. Watch the music video for "Hole in Your Halo" here:

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