Friday, September 28, 2012

Brotherly Love

The first two hours I spend at work are the best part of my day. The sun is barely up, like most of my clientele. I show up at 7am- much earlier than I need to- and until 9am I see very few people.
My shop is quiet, still. It is an ideal environment for reflection and playing melancholy records.

Lately I’ve spent those two hours listening twice (or more) to the album I and Love and You by the Avett Brothers.1
It’s perfect for the time I’m mostly alone.
These songs turn from quiet regret to boisterous hope and back (and forth and back and forth).

Much is made of the power music has to conjure memories and “feelings” from our lives. We attach songs to events. My counselors always called those “grounded feelings”.
Grounding our feelings to song is an automatic gesture that helps us order the events in our personal timelines. It’s important to have order because as we grow older and our individual histories lengthen we simply have more memories, ugly and beautiful.
It’s a lot to keep up with.

The emotions I’ve experienced over the last couple of months will always be “grounded” to this Avett Brothers album.

This record manages to drag my mind roughly across the last decade of my life.
It recalls success and failure.
In these songs I hear the story of my dear friend Kacie Jo moving to Kansas City, great for her but heartbreaking for her many friends left behind.
I hear these songs as I saw the paintings of my buddy Lucas Simmons, vague abstraction and vivid accuracy all at once.
This album feels personal in those ways. These are words I’ve spoken.
The key line of the title track is this: “Three words that became hard to say: ‘I’, and ‘Love’, and ‘You’.”
No words could hit so close to home as these.

For me to be reminded through song of pleasant things is a delightful entertainment. But to hear songs that goad me to face my loss and regret and shame? That is exercise. It is a practice that builds the muscles of my internal life, my emotional strength. And with the blows I’ve suffered- frequently at my own hand- in the last few years, I need the workout.

1 I’m a newcomer to this band. I heard them a few years ago and thought it sounded nice, but I never bothered listening to more of their work. Then they appeared on the Grammys and got quite famous. I have the sophomoric habit of assuming that if a lot of people are into a band the band must be lousy, since most people have the kind of taste that makes Nickleback a group of millionaires. But I was wrong about Avett. They’re the real deal. And this is the album that sold me.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't really listened to the Avett Brothers. I guess I made the same sophomoric mistake. Maybe I'll have to check them out. "One Cell in the Sea" by A Fine Frenzy is definitely the "grounded feelings" album of my life. If you were interested.

    In other news, these captcha things this makes me type to prove I'm not a robot are ruining my life.