Honestly, I can’t find a song. I’m just at my wits end about talking about the election. Or thinking about it, or worrying about it. How has it come to this. How has it become so messy and shocking, but yet none of us are shocked by it still. We’re just hit in the face with more information, which seems to be get more shocking, and more telling as time goes on. Are we there yet?
So here’s a song that I urge you to listen to, when you just need to listen to something else besides pundits, politicians, and polls. Youth Lagoon’s ‘Montana’ from their album The Year of Hibernation is a perfect song for drowning out everything else that is related to all things election. I also feel that the album is aptly named because I feel we will all need to hibernate from all things political for at least a year.
We have been discussing the election for more than a year now, and we are now in the home stretch. I never want to relive an election like this again, personally, it has been stressful and exhausting. I am so tired of talking about this event that has dominated the news and conversations, and brings up this mix of anger and fear that I have never felt about an election.
I went to Greece for three weeks, most of my time was spent at a yoga retreat, which is amazing, and relaxing, and an experience I am so thankful for. I was there for the first debate, and part of me was content of finding out what happened after the fact, but I felt like I needed to know what was going to be said. I woke up at 5 in the morning, to go to the nearest place with wifi, which was a cafe, to sit in the dark by myself, to watch the live coverage on Youtube. It was a very unique and personal experience, but while being in a remote and relaxing place, I could not step away from the election. I keep thinking about how are we going to look back on this endless election cycle; as a historical moment, or something to not repeat, or perhaps a little of both?
To take a reprieve from the FiveThirtyEight obsessing and the following of witty and deplorable Twitter feeds, I’ve decided to do a Beurskens Picks song up until Tuesday. Today’s pick is Bon Iver’s “22 (Over Soon)” from the album 22, A Million.
It’s a good song to think about facing the end of the election. The first vocal of the song is what draws me into this song, it’s minimalistic and has strong lyrics. Which I think I just described every Bon Iver song that exists.
With that hang on for the next few day, because it will be over soon.
I began this post shortly after the Orlando shooting occurred, and then I sat with it. Then the events of this past week happened in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, and then Dallas. I really don’t know where to begin but just listen to this song. So that’s it. My shortest blog post to date.
N.P.R. used to have a series called This I Believe that they played during broadcasts asking people to declare what it is they did believe. I enjoyed listening to this series, and it always made me think about what I would say. What do I believe? I would think about my convictions and thoughts that I know to be true. I wished that I had been given this as a writing assignment as a high school student. Doesn’t it seem like something someone in high school would have forced you to write?
On Friday night when I was alerted that Muhammad Ali had died, I immediately thought of his This I Believe essay. Ali and his wife, Lonnie, read an essay full of confidence and also what it means to be vulnerable, and fearful. Listen to the full story at N.P.R. here.
I think what I really love about this essay, is that Ali knew what he wanted. He knew and thought, he was the greatest. I think because so often, I am filled with doubt and question so much of what I am doing, which is self defeating, and something I know so much more than confidence. I think after listening to this essay again I am struck by Ali’s conviction of being the greatest.
Here is a song to reflect on after you listen to Muhammad Ali, “The World’s Greatest” by Bonnie Prince Billy. It sounds like a song that was written specifically for Ali, but it’s also sad and contemplative which seems appropriate for the passing of someone so iconic. Maybe you’ll think about what you believe or continue to be great at what you’re doing.
Two years ago, two days before my birthday, I decided to begin my new year with this blog and registered Beurskens Picks. Then the blog sat dormant for about a year before I posted anything. Here we are again with another year around the sun as Beurskens Picks and I both turn a new age.
I am not a person that goes all out for their birthday. I don’t celebrate my birthday month, or week. If I tell people it’s my birthday, who I am not friends with on Facebook, it’s usually done in a lowered voice. I am perfectly happy spending time with my family and friends going out to dinner, a drink, or just doing a little birthday window shopping solo. I enjoy receiving texts and phone calls from friends and loved ones. Say what you want about Facebook, but Facebook on your birthday is kind of the best.
For this new year of my life, and blog, I’m continuing to write and post regularly and with that I could think of no other song that fits more appropriately than Jose Gonzalez’s Every Age off the album Vestiges & Claws. This song, as most of Gonzalez’s songs, as contemplative, but simple and powerful. It’s a song that feels right to celebrate a new year of life on earth. It’s a song that makes me feel hopeful for this new year and really that’s what a birthday should bring.
Sometimes I find myself in these moods of restless discomfort and I know the songs to play to either exacerbate this feeling or the songs that will give comfort and make the day and my mood manageable. Jolie Holland’s “Damn Shame” of her album Escondida is a song that has the ability to do both of those things. It’s quiet, almost lullaby tune drifts along while Jolie sings along, there is the sense of anger and sadness. A song that speaks of wanting and loneliness. Wishing to be with someone who is twelve hours ahead, which seems planets away. She seems resigned and accepting but there’s hints of anger every time she says “Its a god damn shame”
It is wistful tinted with this repeated line of “its a nothing but a god damned shame’ which adds this element of anger to this wanting she sends to someone far around the world. “The smell of burnt exhaust drifts into the bar.” a line that sums up something that is toxic that seeps into a place of escape. I think part of the reason why I am enamored with this song is the fact that I can’t share it. As a radio dj in compliance with FCC standards there is a profanity law, that makes “Damn Shame” a song that will never be on the airwaves. Which really is a shame because I cant shake its sad sweeping lyrics from my mind. I think this song particular speaks to ones own internal battle. Trying to go along and be accepting but having the urge to shake one’s fist in anger. At the lover half way around the world, at the time spent thinking alone, with the damn shame of not sharing music with others.
I can think of no other way to begin this blog than with a song that speaks to what it means to begin. To begin this idea that I’ve had for more then a while. This beginning of something that, will evolve and change into who knows what, but for today it begins with The Decemberists. Their song “A Beginning Song” off their new album What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World speaks to what it means to be in a beginning stage. A place of whether to start, to let go, to give up, to wander.
The chorus specifically is what makes this song so poignant. This idea of waiting and wanting, right now is something I have been grappling with for months. For a while I kept thinking that I’ve been in this place of change before. And then I realized, that I’ve never been in this place before, a series of events have made a complete circle around me and I am at a place of so many choices and freedoms that I have become immobilized. At a point where I am restless and ready to begin, I am also afraid. Whether it be in letting go of everything that I know and staying comfortable or to just let go of everything. I’m sure this is a struggle we all face, what is it that makes us begin to think “I’m ready to try something new” “I’m ready to leave” “I’m ready to begin to write again.” All of these ideas that I talk myself into and out of. I think this song makes me feel less afraid. Its ok to feel so restless that I just need to begin. Its ok to start a blog. Its ok to listen the same Decemberists song over and over. And with that, is how I’m going to begin.