Divad’s Soundtrack #69: July-August 2007

We returned to California in July to find summer in full blast. Maybe it was the sudden change of environment, or maybe it was just a sense of “What now?” after fulfilling that lifelong dream by going on the Alaska trip, but I got sick and rather depressed for most of July, and I felt this general sense of weakness and unidentifiable malaise most days, especially if I put off eating a meal. It took me a while to figure out that it directly correlated to mealtimes, but I also think there was an emotional/spiritual component to it that led me to make more of a deliberate effort to reconnect with friends in my faith community, and especially with my wife, with whom I celebrated two years of marriage that summer.

In with the New:
Deas Vail
Andrea Corr (as a solo artist – appears previously with The Corrs)
Wavorly

Out with the Old:
Fort Minor
Chevelle

Listen on Spotify:

divads-soundtrack-69aDISC ONE
We returned to Seattle on the last day of June to spend a day with Khat and Mike before returning to California on July 1. For our last out-of-state meal on that trip, they took us to XXX Root Beer, an old-school burger joint in Issaquah, Washington (which just so happens to be the hometown of Modest Mouse). An antique car show was going on that day, so we got some really good pictures of colorful old vehicles that had been restored to pristine condition.
Where in the world is this?

2007_Eisley_Combinations1) “Invasion”, Eisley (Combinations, 2007)
Eisley’s second album was definitely one of my most anticipated that year, and while it didn’t turn out to be the constant hit parade that Room Noises, I found their imaginative lyrical style to be alive well on tracks like this one, an Invasion of the Body Snatchers-like tale of an alien race slowly possessing a person’s family members and loved ones. The moog synth, colorful piano, and upbeat tempo gave it just about the right amount of whimsy, but there was a sadness to it deeper down, as if it could have been a metaphor for the effect depression has on people, making them walk through life all zombified, not really feeling like themselves or experiencing much in the way of strong emotions. This sort of decsribed the mental malaise that I found myself falling into that summer.

2007_Mae_Singularity2) “Brink of Disaster”, Mae (Singularity, 2007)
Mae’s new record that year was also a huge event for me, considering that both Mae and Eisley were following up on two of my absolute favorites from the year 2005 and the decade in general. Their foray into more of a mainstream sound, with heavier reliance on synths to compliment their muscular but sensitive indie rock sound, was met with mixed reviews, but I thought it was still a pretty strong record. I loved how they continued to explore the relationship between actions and consequences with this song about a realizing his past mistakes were about catch up to him and having a bit of a rude awakening as a result. Being “out of control, asleep at the wheel” was about to lead him into a massive wreck if he couldn’t pull his life out of the tailspin it had entered.

2007_DeasVail_AlltheHousesLooktheSame3) “A Lover’s Charm”, Deas Vail (All the Houses Look the Same, 2007)
This piano-driven indie rock band from Arkansas is probably not one I’d have ever heard of if not for some insistent friends at The Phorum who were sure they would be right up my alley. They were dead right. I couldn’t believe my ears when I realized how well they balanced effortless melodic hooks with complex rhythms and song structures, and Wes Blaylock’s stunning falsetto vocals. This band was not apologetic at all about their lead singer having a higher-pitched voice than a lot of female singers (including his own wife Laura, who played piano and sang BGV’s for the band). This track was my immediate favorite on a record full of compelling songs that pretty much all begged to be considered favorites. The firous rock energy and the 5/8 time signature collapsed beautifully into a more acoustic verse that really let those high vocal notes ring out, and Wes sang with the sort of compassion and concern that made him sound like a fairy tale hero, relentlessly pursuing a wounded lover who was lost, cold, and alone in the woods, unsure of who she could trust. During a period of my life when my emotions were more than a bit muted, this was one of those songs that really helped me to open up and feel again.

2007_Anberlin_Cities4) “Adelaide”, Anberlin (Cities, 2007)
Another one of the heavy0hitters from Cities, this one was named after the city in Australia, but I don’t know if the person it addressed was necessarily from there. It seemed to be about the fleeting nature of relationships when one person stayed put and the other constantly had to travel – pretty much the life of most touring musicians trying to keep a romance alive. Stephen Christian seems to have put himself in the other person’s shoes here, wondering why he’s giving her mixed signals and keeping her hope alive for something that doesn’t logically seem like it could ever work out.

2007_Lifehouse_WhoWeAre5) “Disarray”, Lifehouse (Who We Are, 2007)
Lifehouse definitely went with an “if it ain’t broke”, don’t fix it mentality for their fourth record, which didn’t excite me all that much, but at least it was a return to more of an upbeat, anthemic sound after their abysmal self-titled from 2005. The opening track was a good jolt of energy. Jason Wade loves to sing about finding himself in a disoriented state of mind and not knowing what’s real and what’s fake or what to do next, but this might be the track where he most convincingly jolted himself out of it. “I woke up this morning, don’t know where I’m going, but it’s alright.” That was a rather “zen” approach to an otherwise confused state of mind. I didn’t have it all under control, but I was content in knowing that God did.

2007_ModestMouse_WeWereDeadBeforetheShipEvenSank6) “Fire It Up”, Modest Mouse (We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, 2007)
I loved the mellow, bass-driven groove of this song, and how it seemed to be about a group of misfit scientists or shipbuilders, nihilistically lamenting the futility of their own efforts to achieve some sort of propulsion. I was in charge of planning a birthday barbecue/pool party for Christine that year, which was really as simple as setting up an Evite and adding a bunch of names to the invite list, but for me these things are always more of an ordeal than they should be. I chose a visual theme that had flames and said “Fire It Up!” in the header, probably because I had this song stuck in my head at the time, and Christine vetoed it, saying she wanted to emphasize the pool party aspect and staying cool instead of flames and heat. This is why I don’t set up event invites any more. I’m really bad at knowing how to sell the event.

2006_ViennaTeng_DreamingThrougtheNoise7) “Whatever You Want”, Vienna Teng (Dreaming Through the Noise, 2006)
This was the tenth out of eleven songs on Dreaming Through the Noise that I chose to include on a soundtrack. I was still obsessed with that album a full year after it came out. I loved the subtle genius in this song appearing to be a simple, mildly upbeat piano-pop tune, but then when you get to the chorus, suddenly it felt like at least three instruments were working in a different time signature until they all finally came back around in sync with each other. This song may have been inspired by corporate scandals where embezzlement activities someone hoped to keep quiet were brought to light by whistleblowers who otherwise seemed like innocuous people rather low in the company hierarchy. In this case, a hard-working efficiency expert tasked with covering up the fudged numbers got brought down by a shy, neglected wife who noticed something was a little off and started doing some digging of her own. I love how the song celebrates her for doing the right thing even while making it clear that her life is a quiet tragedy.

2006_MegDia_SomethingReal8) “Indiana”, Meg & Dia (Something Real, 2006)
This tough rocker with its chugging guitar riffs and its cries of “I can do whatever I want like you” were inspired by a character from a novel Meg had read, where she was apparently upset by the outcome for the titular character at the end of the book. I don’t really know any details beyond that, but I really liked the song and put it on here to continue the theme of “admirably defiant women” from the Vienna Teng song.

2007_IronWine_ShepherdsDog9) “Boy with a Coin”, Iron & Wine (The Shepherd’s Dog, 2007)
There was no other record in 2007 that had me as transfixed as The Shepherd’s Dog. Sam Beam had finally made the full transformation from quietly textured folk music into full-color, multi-layered art pop, without forgetting the acoustic underpinnings that had been the framework for most of his songs, and while it got mixed results from some of his fans, I was delighted to have a record from him where I seemed to pick up on a new facet of the sounds or lyrics every time I listened to it. The first single matched the hypnotic dance of a beautifully fingerpicked acoustic guitar loop with a handclap beat and some synthesized/backmasked sounds to add to the eeriness of it all. I never really worked out what the coin that the boy found in the weeds was about, or the bird that flew up the girl’s gown had to do with it. A lot of Beam’s imagery was very abstract, kind of hinting at the seedy underbelly of the American South where he was raised and the “God-haunted” nature of it all… but despite the grim outlook, I got such vivid images of colorful landscapes as I listened to this record. Many years later, I saw an article about synesthesia in which an artist had painted the images that came to mind when listening to several songs, and this was one of them. She saw completely different colors than I would have seen, but the very idea that music would make a listener envision colors and landscapes and such that it wasn’t specifically describing has always been fascinating to me.

2006_Copeland_EatSleepRepeat10) “Where’s My Head”, Copeland (Eat, Sleep, Repeat, 2006)
The intro track from Eat, Sleep, Repeat was barely two minutes long, and I almost considered it less of a “song” and more of an interlude at first, but it set the tone pretty well for the introverted headspace where most of that record spent its time. The vibraphone was a brilliant choice for the lead instrument here, and I loved how the drums sounded like they were echoing from somewhere far away at first, before almost completely taking over the song midway through.

2007_AndrewBird_ArmchairApocrypha11) “Simple X”, Andrew Bird (Armchair Apocrypha, 2007)
Speaking of drums dominating a song, I loved Bird’s collaboration with percussionist and electronic musician Martin Dosh. This “series of simple exercises” sounded like it could have been a real workout for Dosh, and also for Bird as he whistled his way through parts of it. Bird’s usual violin was absent here as far as I could tell, but it was interesting hearing him in this keyboard and percussion-driven track, muttering something about a war looming in the background while “our minds are scattered from hell to breakfast”. The concept of it seemed to be that most of us went about our daily routine completely unaware of when our world leaders might fly off the handle, hit their big red buttons, and end us all in the process.

2007_AndreaCorr_TenFeetHigh12) “Shame on You (To Keep My Love from Me)”, Andrea Corr (Ten Feet High, 2007)
A dance-oriented pop single from the leader singer of The Corrs isn’t exactly the place I’d expect political commentary to show up. This song about a war putting a wedge in between a woman and her lover cleverly subverts that, at first coming across as a simple expression of jealousy, but then delving into the ways that military recruitment (or possibly even extremist milita groups unaffiliated with the government?) can play into a man’s sense of his own masculinity and self-worth, to sell him on the idea of marching to an early grave. Countries need defending from those who would seek to do them harm – I don’t think she’s knocking that idea, per se. But when our leaders instigate unjust wars for their own political gain, and opportunistic members of society convince vulnerable young men that various social causes are worth killing civilians for? Yeah, shame on them.

2007_BarenakedLadies_BarenakedLadiesAreMen13) “Fun and Games”, Barenaked Ladies (Barenaked Ladies Are Men, 2007)
BNL pulled precisely zero punches with their own commentary on The War on Terror. This painful but kinda-funny bit of satire may well be the most brilliant thing Ed Robertson ever wrote. Sung from the point of view from someone pretty high up in the chain of command, it’s basically a cynical admission that we sent all of your sons and daughters to fight in a war that was really just our political posturing to garner support back home. Basically a huge gamble with human lives as the poker chips. I love how prominent of a role the snare drum plays here, as if it could be some sort of a demented military march, and then it collapses into a bit of a Dixieland jazz freakout in the bridge. The most scathing line would have to be “The poor and black all need the room and board… Did I say that out loud?” OUCH. As in the Andrea Corr song, they’re drawing attention to the ways in which war and patriotism can be used as an excuse to prey on the insecurities of a society’s less privileged members.

2005_FortMinor_TheRisingTied14) “Kenji”, Fort Minor (The Rising Tied, 2005)
I can’t name very many songs that tackle the subject of the Japanese internment during World War II, from the perspective of a Japanese-American. Mike Shinoda really knocked it out of the park on this one, including interview excerpts from his father and his aunt in which they recalled what live was actually like during those hellish days when American citizens were viewed by their peers and their government as spies and traitors simply because they looked like the enemy. This song hit pretty hard for me because Christine’s mother was born in one of those camps, so this is a dark chapter of my country’s history that actually had a serious effect on the family I married into. Christine and I actually visited the site of the Heart Mountain camp where her mother was born in 2014, and at the time I was struck by how we think of this as history, but it’s not that far behind us and people who are still alive and well today had to live in that harsh climate under rather inhumane conditions. Some fully expected when as they were being hauled across the country via train that they’d arrive at a camp where they would be exterminated, as the Nazis were doing to the Jews in Germany. While we weren’t doing that, keeping them captive and even subjecting them to the extreme suspicion and outright racism they had to endure even after the war was over and they were all sent back to their homes to pick up the pieces of their old lives, was still a grave injustice that America will probably never live down. It’s unnerving to me that members of a certain political party even advocated for similar treatment of Muslims in the lead-up to the 2016 election, and that we as a society haven’t seemed to fully learn the lessons we should have learned from our mistreatment of our Japanese-American citizens.

2006_Anathallo_FloatingWorld15) “Hanasakajijii (Four & One)”, Anathallo (Floating World, 2006)
Since pretty much the entire Floating World album made reference to various aspects of Japanese mythology and philosophy, it seemed appropriate for such a story to follow “Kenji”. Beyond that, I couldn’t tell you what thematic connections there are, because this is a rather confusing story. The final chapter of the story was actually sequenced before the first part on the album, mimicking the visual style of storytelling where the leftmost panel would actually be the conclusion of the story, with it starting in the middle. So this was actually two tracks on the album that the band would prety much always play back-to-back without stopping in their concerts – the fourth and final part being “A Great Wind, More Ash” and the first part being “The Angry Neighbor”. Part four concerns a man finding that his garden is blooming again after a long season of it being withered, with his memory of his beloved dog being buried there tying back into the first part, in which the dog finds buried treasure in the yard, and a jealous neighbor kills and buries the dog when it fails to find the same treasure in his own yard. There are a few chapters in between on the album that flesh it out a bit more, but these two were my favorite of the four, and they linked together nicely in a bizarre roller coaster ride of lively drums, bells, performance-arty group vocals, and so forth.

2007_TheShins_WincingtheNightAway16) “Sea Legs”, The Shins (Wincing the Night Away, 2007)
I put this one here because I was still trying to get the hang of The Shins, and even though it mostly didn’t take, I was kind of oddly fascinated with the stuttering percussion and the slick bass groove of this song, as well as the odd background instrumentation such as the flute and the weird, “squirty” synths. As with “Sleeping Lessons”, for some strange reason I found this way more interesting than anything The Shins had done with a traditional indie rock band setup. James Mercer’s lyrics here were even more dense and difficult to unpack than his usual, but the rather grizzly image of throwing a dog under a train as a metaphor for killing off a dying relationship was startling enough to get my attention, and for whatever reason I wasn’t as disturbed by that image as I probably should have been. Wow, two songs in a row about dead dogs. This mix took a really dark turn towards the end.

divads-soundtrack-69bDISC TWO
We didn’t get out and try to do much of anything in the summer heat most weekends, until one day in August when I finally got over my laziness and decided we should take a daytrip down to Torrey Pines, in the La Jolla area. Though it was a bit dry at that time of year, we enjoyed a nice hike down to the beach, leading us through maze-like rock formations to a rather secluded shoreline beneath the steep cliffs.
Where in the world is this?

2006_RobertRandolphandtheFamilyband_Colorblind1) “Deliver Me”, Robert Randolph & the Family Band (Colorblind, 2006)
This song is basically one long “Deliver me from temptation” prayer set to a super-funky rock Gospel jam. No bonus points awarded for silly lyrics like “She’s sittin’ heavy on the truck/And I’m straight trippin’ on the skunk”, but honestly it wasn’t any dumber than songs Dave Matthews had written about not avoiding temptation, and I’d been a Dave Matthews Band fan for years, and actually now that I think about it, Matthews and Randolph probably jammed out on this song in unison when they toured together that year.

2007_Maroon5_ItWontBeSoonBeforeLong2) “Little of Your Time”, Maroon5 (It Won’t Be Soon Before Long, 2007)
On the flipside of avoiding temptation, this short little song (which came uncomfortably close to ripping off Outkast’s “Hey Ya”, but that’s another story) wants to go ahead and dive right in to a good old romp in the sack, but finds a couple’s emotional issues (or perhaps the issue that Adam Levine’s the other guy in a love triangle? I was never clear on this point) getting in the way. So in typical Adam Levine fashion, he basically just begs for enough of her time to prove he’s hot stuff in the sack, and figures they’ll talk about it later. Pretty shallow song, but these were the days when Maroon5 was generally still bouncy enough, and believable enough as a band, that I could tolerate the inherent superficiality in most of their songwriting.

2007_Bjork_Volta3) “Innocence”, Björk (Volta, 2007)
Lots of songs have been written about overcoming fear, but I don’t know how many have been written about embracing and understanding it. You can always count on Björk for an unorthodox perspective on these things, I guess. Here she compares being young and fearless to being older and more neurotic, weighing the pros and cons of both versions of herself, and ultimately she determines that facing a fear that you ultimately overcome, makes the experience much more thrilling than if you were never afraid of anything at all. I can’t argue with that. I don’t like that I have weird neuroses and paranoia about certain things – even if they’re as mundane as commercial air travel. But when I overcome such a fear for the sake of doing something I know is worth doing, such as a vacation I’ll treasure in my photos and memories for the rest of my life, I know it was worthwhile. I love that the beat of this song sounded like someone had been punched in the stomach and then it was electronically sampled. The Björk/Timbaland collabaration went a lot better than I would have expected.

2007_Chevelle_VenaSera4) “I Get It”, Chevelle (Vena Sera, 2007)
By Chevelle’s fourth album, they’d had a falling out with one of the three brothers who originally made up the band, and they replaced him with their brother-in-law, just to keep it in the family, I guess. Their music was already rather angry to begin with, but they seemed especially bitter on this release and I wasn’t really feeling it, aside from this rather sarcastic and weirdly bouncy song about wishing one of those people who thinks he’s always right would just shut the hell up already. The song rather acerbically acknowledges the person’s supposed rightness and perfection in all situations, so that they can just stop arguing and get on with the rest of their lives.

2006_Switchfoot_OhGravity5) “Circles”, Switchfoot feat. Sean & Sara Watkins (Oh! Gravity, 2006)
This song had been floating around since the Nothing Is Sound days, and the discontent it expresses with the repetition of daily life in the “modern machine” certainly would have fit the album well. But I’m glad they saved it until Jon Foreman had the chance to collaborate with his fellow San Diego musicians, Sean and Sara Watkins from Nickel Creek. Finding out that the two bands were friends had me absolutely overjoyed, as they were from such different genres that I would never have expected it. That, the 5/8 time signature, and the heavy, riff-driven chorus pretty much cemented it as an easy favorite of mine, and even though I don’t hear any strong Nickel Creek influence in the music, I love how the three vocalists come together in the song’s outro. This collaboration may have been the genesis of Sean and Jon’s idea to perform together as Fiction Family (with Sara as a frequent guest in their live shows) a few years later.

2007_LinkinPark_MinutestoMidnight6) “The Little Things Give You Away”, Linkin Park (Minutes to Midnight, 2007)
The grand finale from Minutes to Midnight easily ended up as one of my all-time favorite Linkin Park tracks. Too bad it was on an album that I could hardly ever work up the courage to listen to all the way through. Here they drew on the imagery of dark, creeping water from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, to call out America’s leaders at the time for not doing enough to care for the largely poor, minority population that had been hit hardest by the disaster. The idea of a politician saying one thing but really believing another, and the little nuances of his actions giving him away, is brilliantly explored here from the perspective of a victim “six feet underwater” who potentially could have been saved. With a six-minute runtime, a slow rhythm of 6/8 gradually building up into some thrilling drum rolls, a very methodical guitar strum gradually leading up to a brilliant solo, and a chilling vocal outro, this track was an excellent example of LP’s potential to achieve great things without copying their old sound in any easily identifiable way.

2006_Snowden_AntiAnti7) “Victim Card”, Snowden (Anti-Anti, 2006)
This long, slow, moody jam from Snowden was probably their most dejected-sounding song on an otherwise mostly danceable record. I could never quite figure out who exactly was playing the victim card and how they were claiming to have been victimized, but the song had this air of mock sympathy to it, as if it was just someone who wanted attention, creating a distraction from the real victims who were in much more dire need.

2006_JarsofClay_GoodMonsters8) “Oh My God”, Jars of Clay (Good Monsters, 2006)
Man, I was really pushing my luck with all of these long ballads in a row! I had loved this song ever since I first heard it on Good Monsters a full year prior, but I had a hard time finding a good place for it on a soundtrack mix, since it’s such a long, somber, and contemplative interruption to whatever else is going on around it. The songs leading up to it here seemed to set the stage nicely, as a Christian laments both the massive amounts of suffering in the world, and his own tendency to ignore the plight of the victims because it’s simply too overwhelming to think about. This song is a desperate prayer without a clear resolution, with the troubling imagery flying fast and furious as the gradual build to the finale reaches an unnerving fever pitch. It was remarkable to me at the time for how it ended on a loud, sour chord instead of the expecting “everything will be alright” sort of resolution you normally get from a lot of Christian music. It unsettled the listener in a good way, and I think a lot of Jars of Clay’s fans really connected with it for that exact reason, later voting it one of their all-time best when it came time to pick tracks for the 20 compilation.

2007_LostOcean_LostOcean9) “Everything Is”, Lost Ocean (Lost Ocean, 2007)
This moody, yet slightly hopeful song about finding beauty even in a dull, dreary, rainy day seemed like a good transition between the bleakness of “Oh My God” and the sheer beauty of the Deas Vail song I had lined up next. Mostly I liked the way that the piano and guitar intertwined on this one. Lost Ocean made up a lot in ambiance for what they lacked in lyrical specificity.

2007_DeasVail_AlltheHousesLooktheSame10) “Shoreline”, Deas Vail (All the Houses Look the Same, 2007)
This show-stopping ballad was a real tear-jerker, and if not for my slightly quirkier choice of the aforementioned “A Lover’s Charm”, this would easily have been my favorite song on Deas Vail’s first album, probably from their entire catalogue for that matter. The ever-shifting piano chords feel like a calm, reflective surface, and while I can’t quite figure out what’s going on with the separation and eventual reconciliation of a relationship between two people Wes seems to be describing here, the song brings a very strong image to mind of a person wandering the beach, sorting out his thoughts, and coming to some sort of a glorious epiphany. This song may build to its climax more gracefully than any rock ballad in recent memory, and when they get there, Wes’s falsetto is absolutely mesmerizing. It’s almost inhuman, how well he pulls off that octave shift to really belt out the final refrain: “I dive into the deep/Into the sea inside of me/To find another song/To find a place where I belong.”

2007_RelientK_FiveScoreandSevenYearsAgo11) “The Best Thing”, Relient K (Five Score and Seven Years Ago, 2007)
I had really taken a deep dive into emotionally heart-wrenching ballad territory for the last six tracks, so at this point I needed to put a little jolt of energy on this compilation. Relient K’s upbeat, piano-driven, pop-punk love song provided a perfect transition out of that mode, and into a final set of songs that expressed gratitude for the faithful companionship of a committed lover. Whether it was depression or just low blood sugar, I had been feeling strangely detached and lacking in feeling during those summer months, and I felt that as I made the effort to really reach out to Christine and talk more deeply about the way both of us were feeling about the current state of my mental health, her uneasiness with her job situation, and our plans for the future, I really felt like I could start to see the clouds parting as we found reasons to fall in love with each other all over again.

2006_Hellogoodbye_ZombiesAliensVampiresDinosaurs12) “Oh, It Is Love”, Hellogoodbye (Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!, 2006)
This boyish song about love at first sight, played on what I think was a ukulele with just a little bit of electric guitar coming in later, was a surprising 180-degree turn from HGB’s otherwise oversaturated brand of electropop. I could almost imagine Chris Thile from Nickel Creek singing this, since the vocal similarities were quite striking at certain points. I’m pretty sure this song found its way into a few commercials – it was an unabashedly cutesy slice of twee pop at right around the time this sort of thing seemed to be making a lot of waves in the indie rock world.

2006_MattWertz_EverythinginBetween13) “Naturally”, Matt Wertz (Everything in Between, 2006)
Now this was a good antidote to the Maroon5, “Let’s hop into bed as quickly as we can and figure the rest out later” approach. The Spanish guitar and vaguely Latin jazz trimmings were a nice twist on Wertz’s usual heart-on-sleeve songwriting style, and like most of his material, the lyrics were about falling in love, but there was a sense of calm and purpose to this song, as he was content not to rush things and to let the relationship develop naturally. That, to me, is way more romanticf than any song about a one-night stand could ever be. (Though I’ll be honest, I have heard some beautiful songs about one-night stands. I just don’t really relate to any of ’em.)

2007_Wilco_SkyBlueSky14) “Either Way”, Wilco (Sky Blue Sky, 2007)
This was the first new Wilco track greeting fans on their new album at the time, after the three-year break since A Ghost Is Born, and since it was surprisingly mellow, wistful, and fluid, and most importantly not weird, I think it got a bit of unfair backlhas as a result. It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting either, but I came to realize that it was a restrained yet beautiful song, particularly when the guitars took flight in the bridge. Jeff Tweedy was having a moment of zen here concerning whether a relationship was meant to last and whether the person really loved him. He had hopes for the best but promised to be understanding and gracious about it however it turned out. You have to admire his dogged devotion without making any demands here – it sort of teases at the idea of true love being unconditional.

2007_DerekWebb_TheRingingBell15) “I Wanna Marry You All Over Again”, Derek Webb (The Ringing Bell, 2007)
This bass-driven jam from the most “rock” of Derek Webb’s albums was a fun little ode to his wife at the time, Sandra McCracken, that expressed a desire to relive all the highlights of their relationship. I’m a sucker for nostalgia, so of course I could relate to this one even if Christine and I had a separate list of funny and cutesy incidents from our own past that were completely different than Derek’s list here. Starting from our honeymoon, there have been gorgeous places we’ve visited and emotionally rich conversations we’ve shared that have caused me to joke, “It’s too bad I already asked you to marry me”, because those would have been perfect moments to do so. You only get to live these moments once, which is why it’s important to me to treasure the memories of them and to write down the things I was feeling at the time so that I won’t forget.

2007_Wavorly_ConqueringtheFearofFlight16) “A Summer’s Song”, Wavorly (Conquering the Fear of Flight, 2007)
Christine and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary that August. This acoustic breather track on what was otherwise a very heavy, conceptual rock album felt like the perfect way to sum up my feelings as I reflected on our two years together. In the song, a couple spreads a picnic blanket out on the grass and shares a tender moment while watching the stars together. It actual made me think of a few of the beautiful not-quite-sunsets we had watched together during our trip to Alaska, where the sun never fully went down. Regardless of the activity, it was clear in this song that the couple’s love had grown deeper instead of stale over the course of their two years together. Even with other areas of our lives being in flux and causing stress and mixed feelings, there was no doubt that we were there as a support for each other, and still very much madly in love.

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