It’s human nature to theorize about the unknown. Theologically speaking, Valley Maker’s “By My Side” addresses some of life’s most frequently questioned uncertainties without actually asking for answers. Austin Crane, the South Carolina man behind Valley Maker, is in no hurry to guide his ambivalence towards dogmatism, patiently meditating with lines like “I think about everlasting life and I watch those days go by”.
Most of Crane’s pensive irresolution stems from an indecisiveness about religion’s role in his life. According to Crane, his friends and loved ones are enough to appease his happiness, and everything else is just adverse details. This concept is most apparent in the fluid chorus where Crane describes that the long-term security of time, space, God, and grace are less important to him than the short term solace of a girl’s presence. His obstinate credence may seem attributed to young naivety, but Crane simply doesn’t feel the need to justify his escapist attitude aside from the fact that it feels right to him.
Despite that Austin Crane has such a strong will, there’s still an innate darkness layered on top of his stubbornness. Crane’s primary frustration lies with the strong-armed evangelism forcing him to make a spiritual decision in order to be accepted. He feels betrayed by the probing efforts of people preaching the threatening nature of God’s “holy sword”, cynically responding that “I heard he knew me before I was born. I’ve been bought and worn”. Still, even when pessimistic, Crane never muddles. He simply leans his head back and tolerantly wonders about topics that his adversaries refuse to be up for debate. In other words, his reaction may be dark and disillusioned, but his path to communicate it is solemn and beautiful.