Moving Stories: Videos from the American South

John Moreland - “Slow Down Easy”


Maybe the hardest thing in the world to do is to just roll on through life. Existence brings tremendous joy and crushing heartache, and we spend our youth hellbent on believing that someday, some way, the former will become constant and the latter will disappear.

Then, you learn that ain’t right, that life is a mix, that neither joy nor heartache is constant, and that they often arrive simultaneously. Learning to stay steady through the heartaches while cherishing the joys is what old geezers like me call “perspective.”

Rolling on through is what this video is all about. It shows us a day in the life of a skateboarder named Raven Walton, raising his son T.R. in songwriter John Moreland’s hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“Raven was a teenage skater who was featured in a few skate videos and had some local sponsorships but wasn’t able to pursue a career due to an injury,” says Moreland’s longtime friend and tour manager, Bobby Dean Orcutt. “He never even really got a chance. Flash forward 20 years, and he still gets together with dudes he’s been skating with since the old days — every Thursday. Old Guy Skate is what they call it. It’s the one night of the week they can all get away from jobs and kids and stuff to skate for the love of it, and I thought that was really beautiful and inspiring and couldn’t shake the idea of making that into a music video.”

Clayton Flores’ rich black-and-white footage captures Walton, the other old guys he skates with on Thursdays, and scenes of Raven taking care of his young son.

“As Raven’s friend, I can say becoming a father was the most important thing to ever happen to him,” Orcutt says. “All Raven cares about is Pantera, skateboarding, and being a Dad.”

As these scenes of joy play out over Moreland’s lyrics about “hauling a heavy soul” and how “so much trouble got a heavy toll,” it’s hard not to get a bit misty-eyed. In an age when music videos rarely compel us, “Slow Down Easy” reminds us how a great song can take on greater meaning in the hands of a good filmmaker. It’s a paean to how the joys of youth need not be lost amid the deeper joys of adulthood.

Or, as the tattoo on Raven’s arm says, “Roll with it or get rolled over.”

The Bitter Southerner is proud to premiere this little gem. — Chuck Reece