The Bottle Let Me Down Lyrics

Each night I leave the bar room when it’s over
Not feeling any pain at closing time
But tonight your memory found me much too sober
Couldn’t drink enough to keep you off my mind

Tonight the bottle let me down
And let your memory come around
The one true friend I thought I’d found
Tonight the bottle let me down

I’ve always had a bottle I could turn to
And lately I’ve been turnin’ every day
But the wine don’t take effect the way it used to
And I’m hurtin’ in an old familiar way

Tonight the bottle let me down
And let your memory come around
The one true friend I thought I’d found



Here is Merle Haggard singing his own song. Whatever Merle Haggard’s issues or not with “the bottle” he survived a long longer than Gram Parsons. He passed away this year on April 6, 2016, his 79th birthday.



Uncle Jim Essex

I had an uncle Jim Essex, an uncle not by blood, who was a lifelong alcoholic.

Jim Essex was a nice man, intelligent, well-read, very mannerly and well-spoken. He was known as “gentleman Jim”.

He was aged a little older than my father, a child of the 1920s.

Jim Essex passed away a long time ago.


No judgment

This blog site in case you’re new to it is my personal blog site. I don’t write about subjects like this out of any sense of judgment towards people who struggle with maladies and addictions.


Gram Parsons

Gram Parsons the country rock singer of the 1970s singing in the above video struggled with drug and alcohol issues like his father and mother before him. His father was in the military and obtained distinguished service medals and rank. He suicided when Gram was in his teens. His mother and father had split up too.

Often there is are family and societal reasons people hit the bottle or use illicit drugs.


The use of the bottle and/or illicit drugs to try to medicate “the pain”

In Gram Parsons case he had inner pain from his past that haunted him and he used the bottle and illicit drugs to try to medicate the pain.

I’ve never used alcohol in this way. I find alcohol doesn’t work for me if I’m down. I prefer to pray to the Lord and be solitary say in nature if I’m feeling down. Or rest.

I’m not a tee-totaller but a light drinker.

My father was a tee-totaller because he was a diabetic. My mother would drink one glass of wine on rare occasions but wouldn’t buy it. Dad said that he wouldn’t have drunken alcohol even if he wasn’t a diabetic because of the alcoholics and other needy people he ministered to daily.

My maternal grandparents were tee-totallers. This term means a vow or commitment, normally a Christian based vow or commitment, not to drink alcohol.

My paternal grandparents had a shot of Scotch whisky as a night-cap but that was all.


The power and ill-effects of alcohol

Many times in human history alcohol has gotten a hold on a town, city or population mass.

Bellingen in Northern Rivers New South Wales in Australia where I live is like this. The amount of beer and alcohol that gets loaded into the two small bottle shops is staggering. One of the local doctors told me that alcohol consumption has caused real health issues in Bellingen.

So apart from the addictive factors there are health concerns.

The preservatives in wine and beer are also not good for the human body.


Uncle Jim Essex

Uncle Jim Essex developed a drinking issue in Young in New South Wales, Australia, in his youth.

In towns like Bellingen where I live and Young where Jim Essex lived there’s not much entertainment about. There’s churches, a pub, social clubs, shops and festivals like Agricultural Shows once a year. In Bellingen we have a lot more options than these.

In Bellingen there’s a crowd that starts in the Federal Hotel often quite early in the day and finishes either when their money runs out, they get kicked out for being too intoxicated or the pub closes. These people could be called alcoholics. Its not my place to judge. These people have an addiction like Uncle Jim.


Uncle Jim’s embezzlement at the ANZ Bank

Uncle Jim, his wife Dorothy and two children were living in Australia. Jim and Dorothy lived in Australia for many years because Jim was an Australian. They moved back to Auckland when I was 10 in 1966. They bought a house in South Auckland.

Jim Essex worked as an accountant at the ANZ Bank in Queen Street in downtown Auckland. You couldn’t do this today and get away with it but his drinking started at the 10am morning tea break. Then he had more beers at lunchtime at the pub. After work he went to the pub on they home in South Auckland and drank more beers. Then brought a beer home plus some stronger stuff like wine, sherry and whisky. By 8pm he was pretty stewed. By 10pm he was gone and asleep. That was Jim Essex’s day- day in and day out. As a teen I observed this behaviour and my father told me the details I didn’t observe.

Like most alcoholics Jim Essex was “in denial” about his booze issues.

In the late 1960s Jim Essex was caught out for embezzling 10,000 pounds off the ANZ where he worked. He did this bit by bit by fiddling the books to finance his drinking habit.


The ANZ Bank dealt with Uncle Jim and Aunty Dorothy harshly

There’s a saying “Never get on the wrong side of a bank”. Yes the banks like most large corporations can be harsh if you do the wrong thing by them on staff or don;t pay your mortgage or something.

The ANZ Bank sold up Jim and Dorothy’s house and they were left with nothing after the mortgage and theft amount was repaid.

From an equitable point of view, it would have been fairer and kind to take half the proceeds and give half to Dorothy. After all the spouses and children of alcoholics or other addicts are innocent dependents. In those days in the 1960s it was rare for wives to work and raise children.


Jim Essex was placed by the Auckland Court in Kingseat Psychiatric Hospital

The type of embezzlement Jim Essex did normally attracted a prison stint.

My father, a pastor, Rev Reuben Donald Elley, organised a good barrister for Jim Essex and dad as a professional psychiatric chaplain got the lawyer to lobby for Jim Essex to go to Kingseat Psychiatric Hospital in South Auckland rather than prison. The Auckland Court agreed to this.

My father was like this. If he saw a pastoral need in his sphere of influence he would try to meet it and provide help. This would extend beyond prayers and comforting words to actions. He was very pro-active with family.


Aunty Dorothy

Its a long story but Aunty Dorothy was greatly affected by the above events and from losing her house. What made matters worse was that Jim essex never gave up the grog.


Grandad Jim Elley

My paternal grandfather and grandmother lived on a 20 acre lifestyle type farm in Hunua in the hills of south-east Auckland about 12 kilometres up the Hunua Road. In those days of the 1940s when they moved there it was a dirt road in the middle of nowhere.

Grandad Elley a decade later had an argument with Jim Essex who was living on his farm with Aunt Dorothy. He’d had enough of Jim Essex and chased him up Hunua Road wedding an axe, wearing his gumboots. He was in his 80s and it was the only time anyone had seen Grandad Jim Elley run. Jim Essex ran faster and escaped the axe.


Born and raised on a farm. My father's sisters Grace (left) and Dorothy with dad. Gracie so cute. Dorothy snuggling into dad. Dad standing straight and sure. Already a leader.

Born and raised on a Hunua farm. My father’s sisters Grace (left) and Dorothy with dad. Gracie so cute. Dorothy snuggling into dad. 


Dorothy never recovered

Dorothy never recovered from losing her home, the shame and anxiety of Jim’s theft from the ANZ, and from years of dealing with Jim Essex’s worsening booze problems.

They divorced in the 1970s.

Dorothy became very bitter and very broken by life.


The effects of alcoholism on Jim Essex’s health

I recall Jim Essex having serious arthritis in his hands from his alcoholism from quite a young age. Excessive consumption of alcohol affects all the human body. The brain, the heart, the lungs, the cardio-vacuscular system, the muscles, the stomach, the skin and so on.

Jim Essex died from an alcohol related illness in his sleep. His lungs were no longer able to function properly due to damage caused by smoking and alcohol and he drowned in lung fluid in his sleep.


Alcoholic lung disease

Alcoholic lung disease is disease of the lungs caused by excessive alcohol consumption. The term ‘alcoholic lung disease’ is not a generally accepted medical diagnosis, and “the association between alcohol abuse and acute lung injury remains largely unrecognized, even by lung researchers”.[1]

Chronic alcohol ingestion impairs multiple critical cellular functions in the lung. These cellular impairments lead to increased susceptibility to serious complications from lung disease. Recent research cites alcoholic lung disease as comparable to liver disease in alcohol-related mortality.[1] Alcoholics have a higher risk of developing acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and experience higher rates of mortality from ARDS when compared to non-alcoholics.


Gram Parsons

Gram Parsons and Uncle Jim Elley sought comfort in the bottle as have so many millions in human history.


Staying away from danger

I go to hotels sometimes to say watch Super Rugby or Test rugby or special events but I’m not a regular by any means.

People who have issues with alcohol should stay away from pubs and clubs.

People who struggle with substance abuse should consider praying to God for help and finding the support of Christians. I know of no other answer.


Here is a video in which Emmylou Harris and his band-mate in the Flying Burrito Brothers talking about Gram Parson’s drug issues. Gram Parsons died from a shot of liquid morphine aged 26.