I've shared a few pages of my story in some of the recent work I've contributed since my return to BlindedBySound and I'm not sure how I feel about sharing it with friends and strangers but writing about music, for me, is more than time signatures, chord changes, riffs, hooks, and descending melodies. It's about the stories, including my own. It's about the life's work of building a soundtrack that tells my story, a playlist that reminds me of life's possibilities and that has meant overcoming the barriers to being vulnerable.
One of my favorite things in life are its many contradictions. Why would I hum "Life is Beautiful" when I'm in the darkest place I've ever been? Why would a song with a title like that have a mournful quality to its tone? I went in search of answers to those and other questions and realized I have been existing, not living, in these months since my life fell apart. I've been lost (and still am) but rather than searching, I sat down where I was and stopped moving.
Todd Nicholls takes lead vocal on this song from Toad The Wet Sprocket's reunion album New Constellation and he writes of someone praying that it's time to wake up after a long sleep as a storm begins to lift. Sound like anything your boy can relate to? Sound like anything you can relate to?
One of the things I love most about this song is the melancholy melody lying beneath the beautiful sentiment in the title and chorus. There are no saccharine platitudes cheapening this declaration and hope and that's part of why it resonates.
I started working on this a week ago and hit a wall when I realized I didn't mean any of what I was trying to say. Life is precious but it's not looking so beautiful from this seat and I had no interest in jerking you all off with lame sentimentality, the very thing this song eschews and the reason I love it.
I learned a long time ago not to delete or discard my work, even the unfinished ideas. Realizing that I was writing a lie was bad but lacking the optimism made me feel worse. I continued to cycle these thoughts and I found my answer, a place I can stand, one I can share.
Hope. I hope to feel that way and if I do, it will look very much like this song. Seeing life as beautiful these days, both with what's happening in my world and the wider one we all inhabit, requires a faith and strength that borders on delusional, but that's the place want to go. One of my favorite Springsteen lyrics from one of my favorite Springsteen songs is, "But what are we without hope in our hearts?" Beauty is beyond my horizon and my hope is small but it's present. This song doesn't reflect where I am but reminds me where I want to be and that's enough for today.