“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.

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“The Ballad of Lucy Jordan” by Marianne Faithfull (1979)

8 01 2017

This amazing song was written by Shel Silverstein (The Giving Tree and Where the Sidewalk Ends). It’s a lament about the sad plight of a housewife trapped in a life that wasn’t enough for her.

Until recently, there weren’t many options for women. Getting married and raising a family was one of the main options. But think about all that wasted potential talent! We could have had six different cures for cancer and world peace by now, if we didn’t insist for so long that women should be “barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen” (yes, I’ve heard that many times).

Marianne Faithfull nails it with her husky, world-weary voice and plaintive delivery.

Things have really changed now, and women can pursue just about any job as a man.

But there is a holdover from the patriarchal, sexist past: there is still a ton of pressure on women to marry and produce children. There’s also a lingering perception that a woman is somehow not complete without experiencing motherhood.

Bullshit. Just because you have a uterus doesn’t mean you have to use it. Here’s a list of some women who didn’t have kids:

Jane Austen
Charlotte Bronte
Julia Child
Emily Dickinson
Harper Lee
Amelia Earhart
Georgia O’Keefe
Dorothy Parker

And on and on….

If you truly want to have children, that’s terrific. Many people do. But I’m telling you this because few others would. Your grandmother would tell you. You are the captain of your body in this area, too.

There is enormous pressure on us to do what we’ve been raised/conditioned by society to do. Often we’re not even aware of it, we just flow with it, like caught in a river current. Always check to see if your bearings aren’t effected by the current.

I just remembered that your middle name means “flow of the river.” We’ll have to find the Hindi word for “against” as a prefix to fix that.





“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” by Hank Williams (1949)

4 12 2016

Loneliness is awful. It’s different than just being alone.

Most people can be alone for awhile, but feeling alone is much more intense than merely being alone.

Humans are pack animals, we run in groups and clans. Long-term isolation can take its toll.

My suggestion is to make as many good friends as you can. People who know you. Who can make you laugh, but who also can see pain or worry in your eyes hidden behind that laughter.

Then make a real effort to stay in touch with these friends. And be there for them, so they will be there for you.

Then, perhaps, you won’t ever need to sing this song by the great Hank Williams:

“I’ve never seen a night so long
When time goes crawling by
The moon just went behind the clouds
To hide its face and cry”





“California” by Delta Spirit (2012)

30 10 2016

This is such a fantastic song. And Delta Spirit is one helluva good band.

Boy loses girl, boy’s heart is broken. But boy wishes girl happiness, even though he hurts like hell. Because he likes her, and he wants the best for her:

“All of the feelings that I know you’ve never felt
And all of the simple words you never said
I want you to keep them like a secret to yourself
They’re not for me”

That’s righteous. Evolved.

Unnnnfortunately, it’s also pretty rare. Especially among boys.

We boys are never really taught how to deal with our emotions. In fact, the opposite: “Walk it off,” “Big Boys Don’t Cry.” So without being able to deal with hurt, or rejection, we turn to our ready-to-fire default emotion, anger.

You will encounter this, if you haven’t already:

BOY: Do you want to dance/a drink/to go steady?

GIRL: No, but thank you very much

BOY: Stuck up B*TCH! I wouldn’t dance/drink/go steady with a slut like you anyway!

It’s just a shitty encounter all the way around. That you didn’t ask for. And there’s really nothing you can do to prevent it. No matter how nice and gracious you are (which, by the way, you shouldn’t even have to be), it’ll happen.

Well, it’s never on you. It’s “us.” Do the best you can to shake off any hate that comes as a result of our deficiencies.

Maybe songs like this can plant the seeds in some hearts and minds.





“Torn” by Ednaswap (1995)

17 07 2015

This is such a fantastic song. Most of the world knows it well from Natalie Imbruglia’s cover version, a huge, international hit in 1998, and that’s when I first heard the song.

Imbruglia’s version is great, emphasizing the melody, with a jaunty beat that makes your feet tap while you sing sweetly along:

“Nothing’s fine I’m torn
I’m all out of faith, this is how I feel
I’m cold and I’m ashamed lying naked on the floor”


Wait, what? What’s this song about? Who the hell wrote this?

“Illusion never changed into something real
I’m wide awake and I can see the perfect sky is torn
You’re a little late, I’m already torn.”


Turns out a band from LA called Ednaswap wrote the song, led by the fierce Anne Preven (who co-wrote the song, including the dagger-like lyrics). Ednaswap was a tight, terrific band that should’ve been heard by more people.

The Ednaswap version is very different from Imbruglia’s cover. Not a bouncy, wistful track, but a bluesy slow-burn dripping with resignation and barely-contained disgust (at the betrayal? At herself?).

THIS is the version I play when misery needs company. It’s great for your music toolbox, when you feel hurt or (especially) betrayed. I’d like to say that will never happen to you, but just in case, here’s “Torn”:

And just for reference, here’s Imbruglia’s cover. Still a great song, just done very differently:





“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.





“This Woman’s Work” by Kate Bush (1989)

6 08 2010

Anyone who knows me well will tell you how much I love Kate Bush’s music. She’s known for combining her music with theater and dance, but I just adore her music. We have all of her albums, and they are all terrific.

I first heard her music while “in university” (British for “when I was in college”). And it blew me away. It’s a bit challenging, wonderfully expressive, and absolutely honest. It mesmerized me, and I’m glad it did. Because her music followed me through my life.

This track was one of her biggest “hits” in the U.S., mostly because of its inclusion on the soundtrack of “She’s Having a Baby” (a damned fine film, by the way). Her music was never really picked up by the corporate tin ears in the U.S., which is such a shame.

Not only did she write and perform the song, she directed this video as well. It’s intense, and makes use of some nice cinematic touches, like the continuous shot of the husband driving his wife to the hospital.

Imagine a birth gone wrong. Someone facing a terrifying truth.

Ms Bush captures it all. Because she’s a master of relating human emotions. And that’s why I adore her music.

“I know you have a little life in you yet
I know you have a lot of strength left”