“Breaking the Habit” by Linkin Park (2004)

17 10 2017

This is a powerful song about hitting rock bottom.  Reportedly, Linkin Park’s singer, Chester Bennington, had difficulty singing this song live because it would choke him up.  He struggled with addiction, and clearly his own song resonated with him.

“Memories consume like opening the wounds
I’m picking me apart again
You all assume
I’m safe here in my room
Unless I try to start again
I don’t want to be the one the battles always choose
‘Cause inside I realize that I’m the one confused”

Addiction is no joke, as you know by my earlier posts.  I’ve struggled with alcohol since I was in my 20’s (picked up the habit while serving in the military).  It goes up and down, and right now it’s going down.

Eventually you’ll ask yourself why your dad drank alcohol.  I’m not sure I can describe it in a blog post.  There is a genetic component, and my father drank pretty heavily (which was more common back in his day).  For me, drinking makes me feel like a human.  It lets me enjoy the moment and the present company, rather than worrying about the future, or things said or done in the past.  It quiets my mind.  I don’t think about all the misery in the world, or in my life.  It’s an escape.  Not an escape from my problems, but from myself and my own overwrought perspective of life and the world.

And where do you get help?  Only rich people can afford residential rehab programs.  This is the problem in our society.  Help is not as available or affordable as it should be.  So it’s all up to you.  To do alone.

Please be careful with alcohol.  At first it can seem relatively harmless.  Partying at college, joking about the hangover the next day.  But over time you can want it more and more, and it will start messing with your health.  And as you get older, it gets harder and harder to deal with the hangovers, because they get worse and worse.

I’m working on it.  But please know that I don’t drink to escape my life, or to escape what is my joy at being your father.  I drink to escape my head and my heart, neither of which will shut the hell up on their own.

There is another component to addiction that researchers have recently found:  Addicts often feel that they lack or have lost some connection to society, or to humanity.  We are pack animals, and not fitting in to the clan could mean your very survival in our earlier evolution.  It makes a lot of sense, and it explains why so many successful people fall victim to drugs and/or alcohol.  Think of Janis Joplin and Amy Winehouse, to name only two. They were surrounded by vultures and ass-kissers.  Who can you really trust?

I wish I had made and maintained closer friendships.  Real connections.  I think that would have helped me.  So that’s my advice.  Be careful of the sauce, and try to surround yourself by people who really like you, want the best for you, and will tell you the damned truth.  It certainly can’t hurt.

As a sad footnote, Chester Bennington–who had struggled with addiction but then recovered–recently committed suicide, sadly adding to the poignancy of this track.  I’ve been listening to it a lot lately. To help break bad habits.

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“To Feel This Way” by The Call (1997)

1 09 2017

The Call was one of my favorite bands back in the day. Michael Been, the singer/bassist/songwriter, and his bandmates made some great, provocative music.

This song is one of my favorites, and it really resonates with me. At first, it seems like a guy singing about loss, maybe the loss of love, and how he “never should have allowed himself to feel this way.”

But it’s bigger than that. I think he’s talking about how hard it is to live in this mad world when you “feel” too much. When you have too much empathy. Things can weigh on you, love and loss is amplified.

“The stranger he lives quietly
And braves the heat and cold
Through s deep dark haunted passageway
That leads him to his soul

Let no one be mistaken
Death makes memories of us all
It’s the purpose that confounds me
I should never have allowed myself
To feel this way.”

I’m not sure if a person is born with empathy, or if it’s nurtured. But some people have it, and some don’t. I know people who have absolutely no interest in anything outside their own lives. I envy them. How nice to not constantly feel the need to hang your head at all the misery in the world.

I know you have empathy. It’s a wonderful, human thing to have. In fact, some psychologists believe that empathy is the last major evolutionary step our species developed.

But it has a down side. You have to find a way to deal with it, otherwise, you’ll find yourself being dragged down by things. I’d recommend finding friends who share your empathy, if only for the camaraderie. And listening to music. Lots of music.





“When the Rainbow Comes” by World Party (1990)

4 01 2017

This is the second World Party song I’ve posted, the other is “Ship of Fools,” so I won’t rehash my love for Karl Wallinger’s music.

This is another medicinal song. A sober song about hope. Or the struggle to find it. This song was released in a time I needed hope, so I know this song well.

It starts with an ideal:

“Build a new house down by the sea
Get to the place we were meant to be
You’ll know it when you smile.”

Of course most of us can’t do that. So if you can’t live by the sea, then what?

“Slippin’ and slidin’ around in your head
It’s be-bop-a-lula and baby you’re dead
So come on, make a bright new day.”

It’s never that easy, but just singing it out loud makes it seem just slightly more possible to make that bright new day.

“I need a prayer here
I need a blessing
Cast your eye back as you run
Turn around, boy!
See the rainbow come!”

I do believe there is something to the “power of positive thinking.” It’s just not that easy for some folks.

What’s easier is the power of positive singing. If things seem a tad dark, crank it up, belt it out. It might help.





“Life During Wartime” by Talking Heads (1979)

14 11 2016

These “United States” of America have just elected Donald Trump.

I am so, so sorry, sweetheart. Rational people did their best to stop him. But he said what people wanted to hear, and he stoked division and fear.

He has no respect for women, or minorities, or the press, or the courts, or our taxation system, or anything but his own interests as far as anyone can tell.

And with both houses of Congress plus his own conservative appointment to the Supreme Court, this nation is doomed. And we’ll take the rest of the world down with us.

So, we fight. What else can we do?

Here’s one lesson: Young people HAVE to get to the polls and vote. I know you’re too young to vote now, but when you can vote, please do. And talk about it with your friends, encourage them to vote, too.

If young voters–who overwhelmingly favored Democrats–turned out for the election, we wouldn’t have Donald Trump as president. We wouldn’t have had George W. Bush, either. And Bernie Sanders, not Hillary Clinton, would probably have been the Democratic nominee, easily beating Trump. There were other factors, of course, but one thing you can do is vote and get involved. Or you end up with our own Il Duce.

This song came out when I was about your age. I remember listening to its ominous words about changing hairstyles “so many times now, I don’t know what I look like.” It’s about fighting in the resistance. Perhaps it was foreshadowing.

And you can dance to it!

“Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit?
Heard about Pittsburgh, PA?
You oughta know not to stand by the window
Somebody see you up there”





“This Time I Won’t Forget” by KONGOS (2014)

25 04 2015

KONGOS is a band from South Africa, all brothers with the last name “Kongos.” Their dad was a famous musician back in the day, and judging by how tight and driving their music is, I’m guessing they spent a lot of time playing music together as they grew up.

You’ve probably heard their big hit, “Come With Me Now,” with its manic, infectious groove, but their album has many sonic dimensions, often incorporating elements of traditional music from southern Africa.

I think “This Time I Won’t Forget” is my favorite on the album. It’s a haunting aria about loss. Something everyone can relate to:

“Oh, I will try
But I tell you it ain’t easy using only words
And so I’ll begin
But I’ll start at the end, the day I said so long my friend”

But it’s not just a sad song about lost loved ones. It’s also an affirmation of life:

“Cause now I’m alive
I’m taking my first breath
Oh I’m alive
And this time I won’t forget”

Sad, beautiful, and uplifting. These are the songs that last, and I think this song will and should seep into many souls.





“Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind (1997)

1 11 2010

Before I bloviate about drugs yet again, let me tell you how much I love this song musically. It’s tight, melodic, energetic, and has some truly tasty guitar playing, layered on like expert masonry, intricate yet rock-solid.

And the frenetic energy of the song fits the honest lyrics about the drug crystal meth. It’s a cheap drug widely available, and it traps otherwise good people. This is one of those drugs that takes you too far away from who you are, with the danger of becoming a lost soul, feeding needs you never had before.

Please, sweetheart, stay away from it, or at least be very wary of it. It’s bad news.

“Doing crystal meth
Will lift you up until you break
It won’t stop
I won’t come down”

(Thanks to BurningSwade6 for the great YouTube upload with lyrics!)





“Message to My Girl” by Split Enz (1984)

3 08 2010

I first heard Split Enz when I was in college, which is a perfect time to absorb and revere music, adding it to the soundtrack of your life. They had at least one hit in the U.S. (“I Got You”), but unless you bought their albums, you would have missed out on some glorious songwriting. These New Zealanders made wonderful music, then morphed into another terrific band, Crowded House, which I’m going to post up here soon.

I love the frank expression with this song, and the terrific way it builds from verse to chorus, a beautiful flow of energy and emotion. This track never fails to move me. Reason #12,347 why I love music.

Oh, and this isn’t a message to a “girl,” but a woman, a lover, who meant a great deal to someone. Or at least that’s my take. And let’s face it, “Message to My Girl” is a lot easier to sing than “Message to a Great Woman Whom I Respect Dearly and With Whom I Wish to Have Another Chance.”

“And there’s nothing quite as real
as the touch of your sweet hand.
I can’t spend the rest of my life
buried in the sand.”