33 And 1/3 Under 45 – Track Seven: Oliver Appropriate

33 and ⅓ is a monthly music column by Ryan Lynch, exploring the records that keep him inspired in a cynical world.

You can find episodes on frondsradio.com and be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Google PlayStitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have any suggestions or thoughts, my twitter handle is @stoopkidliveson and I’d love to hear from you. You can find Ryan’s band, Premium Heart, on facebooktwitter, or instagram for upcoming releases and shows.

The original column was published on February 20th, 2019 and can be found below.

New York, release me from my strata

I’m back and so is Say Anything. This time, it’s all about 2019’s Oliver Appropriate, the final record in the era of Say Anything’s catalog kicked off by …Is A Real Boy. I really could write a whole column on every one of their records, but for now, I’ll be fast forwarding to Oliver, which serves as a spiritual sequel to the themes I talked about last time. Just a quick content warning up at the top, this album deals with a lot of sex, sexual identity discussion, and violence against partners.

Quick recap: …Is A Real Boy was all about that entitled and obnoxious mentality that almost always accompanies a suburban punk dude, explored through singer and songwriter Max Bemis’ first person narration. Rage at everyone who won’t give you exactly what you want. Screaming over everyone else because you don’t think anyone’s listening. Stroking your ego just to cover up how little you actually like yourself. Lashing out. Constantly. Really all the time. At everybody. Like this guy:

Wait, that’s me

Definitely not me. I don’t know why that’s there. Weird.

Yeah, Max. That’s who I meant. I swear!

Oliver skips ahead 15 years later to see what that teenage jackass is up to now. It’s a thematic record, so I really recommend listening to it as a whole, even if the plot isn’t the clearest narrative on the first listen. The story opens with the titular Oliver, narrated by Max, an older version of our Boy protagonist. His band’s broken up, which he assumes is a devastating loss to the public, and he’s living his life through an alcohol and pill induced haze. He’s conformed to the standard hetero liberal “ally” lifestyle, despite holding deep resentments for everyone around him.

They fade into the liberal bourgeoisie,
Their hatred now inflamed to stoke your daughter’s screams
And ramble about Trump over Stellas
And headline Coachella

He takes that resentment as some sign of his superiority. He’s miserable because he’s better than everyone and always has been. He only pretends to be one of them to fill some hole in his self worth. His flaws are what define him, but no one’s allowed to see them; Oliver himself barely acknowledges them.

And everything they told me was wrong is still in my heart to turn me on
My ego is built on all my pain. I’m your migraine.

Deep down his struggle with his sexual identity gets covered up in a way that may seem familiar to a lot of people who came of age in the “newly woke” era. Oliver “pretends” to be queer as a joke to hide his insecurities. He kisses men as a goof to show off how “comfortable” he is with his heterosexuality, but never pursues these relationships past the mockery phase. He’s satirically macho to the point that he falls into the same tropes that outward misogynists do. And that struggle with his identity manifests itself, not only in his sexual identity, but in a deep hatred of women, no matter what he pretends to feel.

I somehow became a feminist, when ten years ago I was feeding drinks 
To women I’d laugh at when they’d think amongst my friends
It’s such a lie

After we really get to know Oliver, his whole world changes. His facade slips and he actually lets himself go home with a guy, maybe as a joke, maybe not, but he crosses a line he never did before and starts to really fall for someone after the high of getting his band back together lets him actually show some honesty, played by the drummer and co-writer of the record, Karl Keuhn.

Is it funny when I fuck? Is it funny when I suck?

One night with me is bringing back the memories of that old room where you started fucking the fear
Two broad shoulders and two hands as big as mine, I bet you think, I bet you know the end is near
And maybe it is.
‘Cause people like your father don’t take it lightly when we kiss
So now you either follow, let go, or bury below
But you can’t escape the sinking feelings you don’t outgrow

And Oliver finds himself… himself for the first time. This guy has let him be Oliver. And then… it’s over. This character defining moment to Oliver was just some night. He’s in love with someone else and Oliver was just some fling. We’ve all had these moments that keep us up at night for years, people you can’t get out of your head. And those people probably don’t even know we exist. We end up defining ourselves by something that the person responsible thinks of as negligible, if they think of it at all. But most of us eventually accept and get over it, but how does someone as self absorbed as Oliver take no for an answer? Well, we’ve all met these kind of guys and they usually… don’t. So Oliver goes to his apartment and…

Never earned the key so I’m knocking and now you’re home
My liver tells me so, it demands moonshine to blind the truth
That I was fine before you made me know myself, I wish I could go back
What does he got that I don’t? 
All I know, you’ll never love me

And Oliver murders him, ties them together, and drowns himself in the East River alongside him.

If you should die in your own form, I’ll reinforce that (I’ll convince you)
I’ll slit your throat and leave you gaping, oh, the hardest part of being alone
I’ll leave you torn, I’ll leave you waiting, oh, the hardest part of being alone
You break our beating hearts wide open
You’re the hardest part of being alone
You break our bleeding hearts wide open
You’re the hardest part of being alone
Being alone, Being alone, Is that enough?

It’s a pretty hard turn in the plot, but it’s what makes the whole album work so well. If you’re going to take a cautionary tale of entitled ego and advance it 15 years to now, to the Trump era, to the incel era, you have to follow through with it. We’re in an era where horrible men are being empowered to treat everyone as less deserving. An era where we continue to give the worst of us the loudest voices and the most power, normalizing and amplifying their bigotry and violence. All because they can’t take no for an answer. They can’t even imagine a world where people exist outside of what they can do for them.

It makes me sick and I don’t know what to do about it. I’m as powerless as our character in …Is A Real Boy was and I want to lash out and scream at everyone. But isn’t that the problem? Isn’t that why we’re in this mess to begin with, and if so, why was I so surprised when it happened? It’s because I’m privileged. Absolutely, I am. When Trump won, I couldn’t believe it. But then I heard plenty of people saying “Of course he won, this is the America we’ve always known. You didn’t notice?” Of course Kavanaugh was confirmed. Of course this is the world we live in. Because men don’t learn the right lessons from anything. A cautionary tale becomes an empowering icon.

I wish I could go back to that angst-ridden, entitled, suburban asshole and slap the stupid smirk off his face and tell him to get better faster. Never let yourself be satisfied or complacent. Nobody owes you anything. Yeah, life sucks sometimes, but acting like this hurts people. People like Oliver kill people every day and the majority of us don’t say a goddamn word about it. We deem it inappropriate to even discuss it in an uncivilized way. So maybe a lot of us could benefit from taking a look back at who we used to be and really think “am I that much better now? Am I good enough yet?” I bet a lot of us won’t find a good enough answer. So come up with a better one.

So go ask your Chomsky
What these systems produce
The cracks in commandments
That we can slip through

God, I’m smart and I’m worth hating

33 And 1/3 Under 45 – Track Six: …Is A Real Boy

33 and ⅓ is a monthly music column by Ryan Lynch, exploring the records that keep him inspired in a cynical world.

You can find episodes on frondsradio.com and be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Google PlayStitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have any suggestions or thoughts, my twitter handle is @stoopkidliveson and I’d love to hear from you. You can find Ryan’s band, Premium Heart, on facebooktwitter, or instagram for upcoming releases and shows.

The original column was published on February 10th, 2019 and can be found below.

And the record begins with a song of rebellion

Here we go. I’ve been putting off writing this one for a while. I’m going to try to keep the gushing to a minimum here, but Say Anything’s …Is A Real Boy has been called my favorite record more often than not over the last 6 or so years. I could go on about how “Alive With The Glory Of Love” is a perfect song, or how one of the best songs to cover with my high school band was “The Futile,” with it’s intro of SHIT, NOTHING MAKES SENSE. Or even how neither my wife nor I hesitated to say “I Want To Know Your Plans” had to be the first dance at our wedding. So instead of just talking about how flawless it is, I’d rather talk about why I’ve been listening to it a lot lately. I don’t plan on getting into the songs that mean the most to me, but what the record is trying to say as a whole. As an aside, you gotta admit it doesn’t get more precious than this, captured by Flying Machine Network host, Elle Riccardi.

You’re what keeps me believing the world’s not gone dead,
Strength in my bones, put the words in my head.
When they pour out to paper, it’s all for you.
‘Cause that’s what you do. That’s what you do.

So if this record is such an important part of my narrative, why am I writing about it now? This month, I’ll be doing a two part column about Say Anything’s first major release, the aforementioned …Is A Real Boy, and their most recent and allegedly final record, Oliver Appropriate. I’ll save most of the Oliver talk for next time, but the premise is that it’s a concept album that extrapolates the character set up in …Is A Real Boy and follows up on where that character would be 15 years on. So let’s take a look at that guy’s beginnings.

The general idea behind the record is that our narrator, an angst-ridden, entitled, suburban asshole has been cursed that everything he feels and thinks just pours out of his mouth in a dramatic, musical way. Definitely not how I see myself in any way, I swear. But this character isn’t supposed to be our hero. I’ve been thinking a lot about the problematic lead style of storytelling and what it lets us explore. I’m a big fan of following the, I don’t want to say villains, but the characters we aren’t supposed to agree with, to help illustrate the flaws we all have. SeinfeldIt’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, and Rick & Morty are prime examples of cautionary tales of letting your pettiness and ego get in the way of being a real human being. We also have characters like Han Solo, who we see develop from problematic asshole to hero in their own right. That growth is what makes them fan favorites. But I’ve also been thinking a whole lot about the role that these characters play when the wrong lessons are learned by the audience. Rick & Morty’s fanbase is one of the most toxic places around and they worship at the feet of a character that’s supposed to be the villain of the series; taking his narcissism as an ideal to strive for instead of seeing the damage he brings to the rest of the cast. People look up to Joker and Harley Quinn, a couple that was literally created to bring domestic abuse and mental illness to the forefront of the already traumatic and messy world of Batman. But does that mean we should abandon work with problematic characters, regardless of authorial intent? Personally, I think it’s more important than ever to showcase the problems these characters work through and help show their motivations and the impact they have. Fiction is a safer place to explore the problems of society, than let people just like our characters exact more harm on the people around them and get surprised by the fallout. But by bringing voice to problematic views that people define themselves by, are you doing more harm than good? As Vonnegut said, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be,” after all.

So how does that relate to …Is A Real Boy? Max Bemis, the writer behind Say Anything’s catalog, has openly spoken about how often the themes of …Is A Real Boy were misinterpreted. Our character was never supposed to be Max, but the manifestation of what drives an angst-ridden, entitled, suburban asshole who can’t control his own impulses.

I watch this dude each night, same table
He creates and crumples up
His eyes are wide from sipping endlessly his endless coffee cup
He feeds me quotes, that lonely goat
I watch him grazing by himself
I will not stop him when he rambles
I’m becoming one myself

Lou is bugged, shot up with drugs.
He sweats this bird he hardly knows,
All he wants is to see someone he respects without their clothes.
So like some hybrid mother/lover, she’d soothe and heal his wounds
And kiss those dying ears so softly
That the reaper stops to Swoon Oh, please

Full disclosure, I completely missed this in high school and couldn’t stand his vocal delivery and writing style until years later when it finally clicked. I thought it was celebrating his ego and lust for sex and acceptance (mostly the former), but it wasn’t. It was projecting what this guy, who was a hell of a lot more like high school Ryan than I’d like to admit, wanted more than anything in the world, but it wasn’t supposed to make you feel good and empowered. Revisiting it years later, it made a hell of a lot more sense why his style was so… sarcastic.

And this girl, who I met.
Who’s pride makes her hard to forget.
Took pity on me, horizontally, but most likely because of my band.
And that’s all I can get, when I’m lonely. 
And these visions of death seem to own me
In the quiet of the classrooms
All across the stacked United States of Woe, whoa
We live with woe, oh, oh, oh, oh

When I read Catcher In The Rye in middle school, it was on the recommendation of my 8th grade English teacher, two years before we read it as an assignment. She pulled me aside after class and said “You really should read this now. If you wait to read it with a class, you’ll hate it.” I don’t know what she saw in me at 13, but she was right. When I first read it, I was in disbelief at how much of myself I found in Holden Caulfield. I read it over and over again, every winter for the next several years and my feelings towards the book changed significantly every time I finished it. My senior year of high school, I realized, yeah, I was Holden and Holden really sucks. I was also convinced that the whole book serves as a farewell message to his therapist before an inevitable suicide. And, being an angst-ridden, entitled, suburban asshole struggling with my own depression, I knew, deep down, that if I didn’t make a significant change to my cynical, spiteful, implicitly misogynistic self, I would end up there, too. I hated everyone around me and what did I have to show for it? A lot of hate. And nothing else. So I worked on it, went to college, and reinvented myself as a romantic optimist. Desperately trying to escape Holden Caulfield.

I still adore Catcher, don’t get me wrong, but much like …Is A Real Boy where I once took it literally, I finally realized that it’s supposed to make me uncomfortable. It’s supposed to challenge me to rise above this character. In “Every Man Has A Molly,” we have a break up song with more vitriol than you can believe. It’s about how his emotional honesty has pushed his girlfriend away and now he’ll never “have rough sex with Molly Connelly again.” Max has openly spoken about how he was a virgin till college and how there never was a real Molly. But in this character’s mind, there should have been one. In “Admit It,” a diatribe against the exclusive nature of liberal hipster culture, we see that same rage directed at “the same superiority complex shared by the high school jocks who made your life a living hell. And made you a slave to the competitive, capitalist dogma you spend every moment of your waking life bitching about.” It’s pretentious, it’s pissed off, it’s what I felt like as a teenager. All I wanted to do was scream at everyone I thought I was better than, which, of course, was everyone. But luckily, I used characters like this to address and start the process of exorcising the parts of myself that I see in these characters.

So what happens when the audience learns the wrong lessons from a cautionary tale? What does Holden Caulfield look like 15 years later? What kind of person grows out of someone like this if they never learn how to be better? I’ll be back later this month to talk about the sequel, 2019’s Oliver Appropriate.

So you’ll come to be, made of these, urgent unfulfilled.
Oh no no no no no.
When I’m dead, I’ll rest

33 And 1/3 Under 45 – Track Five: In A Silent Way

33 and ⅓ is a monthly music column by Ryan Lynch, exploring the records that keep him inspired in a cynical world.

You can find episodes on frondsradio.com and be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Google PlayStitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have any suggestions or thoughts, my twitter handle is @stoopkidliveson and I’d love to hear from you. You can find Ryan’s band, Premium Heart, on facebooktwitter, or instagram for upcoming releases and shows.

The original column was published on January 15th, 2019 and can be found below.

Shhh. Peaceful. Silent.

Happy new year, everybody! It’s January, and while I’m generally not one to make resolutions, there is still something about changing out my calendar that gets me thinking about where I should go next. 2018 was a big year for me and I feel like I’ve grown a lot. But that always pushes me to think “Ok, so I did all that, now what?” And I found myself gravitating towards music that asks the same questions.

There’s something about Miles Davis. Every single time I hear his trumpet come in over any of his incredible rhythm sections, I can’t help but think “why the hell don’t I listen to more Miles Davis?” But for Davis’ In A Silent Way, it doesn’t even take that long. It takes this record 7 seconds to kick in and it does not let up until it’s over. It opens with Joe Zawinul’s low organ hum until Tony Williams’ hi-hats, John McLaughlin’s guitar, Dave Holland’s bass, and Chick Corea’s and Herbie Hancock’s electric pianos kick in and just like that jazz fusion was brought in to the limelight, all in 7 seconds. Rounding out the band is Wayne Shorter’s beautiful soprano saxophone. And then, there’s Miles. His trumpet is unparalleled here. Sure, most people prefer his deeper exploration into the murky waters between rock and jazz in the following year’s Bitches’ Brew, but for me, In A Silent Way is where it’s at.

By the late 60s, Miles Davis was already an incredible musician and a huge force in the jazz world. In 1968 he had just gotten married to Betty Mabry, who introduced him to a whole lot of funk, soul, and rock throughout the New York scene, and as I talked about in my previous few columns on Prince and Bowie, newlyweds discovering music together is something I can really get into right now. But even though they were divorced the following year, her impact on his music was hardly a temporary thing. With 1969’s In A Silent Way, Davis had fully integrated the guitars, electric pianos, and organs of rock music into his jazz ensemble. There had been a handful of artists pioneering this mix of jazz and rock (eventually called fusion), but few had the jazz world’s respect that Davis had. As he continued to explore with dissonant and challenging mixes of genres throughout the 70s, he became so controversial and reviled in the jazz world, he went in to retirement for a bit, but very little of that strife is heard here.

The record is two acts, one on each side. Side A is an 18 minute suite of “Shhh” and “Peaceful.” As I said up top, this piece is one of my favorites. The bass, drums, and pianos hold a perfect rhythm while the leads go explore. Davis lets the guitars and keys explore for about two minutes before he comes in. This is the kind of improvisational jam you would later hear on albums like The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers or The Grateful Dead’s Europe ’72 tour, but here, it’s more… adventurous. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking those fantastic records. But when rock bands jam, you feel the music building heavier and heavier and the focus is often on the dynamics, to give the musicians and the audience the release of an explosive crescendo. The exploratory jams are some of my favorite things in rock, for sure, but it’s a different vibe. You can feel the band’s energy as they push the jam bigger and bigger. But on this record, Davis grows the music sideways instead of up. The bass and drums never get more intense, they just evolve. The keyboards never start hammering away, they only add different kinds of texture. Just about all of my improv experience is through rock, so when I really listen to an improvisational piece like this, I’m always amazed at where the musicians choose not to go. When they choose to just stop and let someone else completely take over. Davis spends a lot of the song in the background while the guitars and keyboards complement each others. Every time the song builds up to just when I’m really feeling it, the band stops. Waits a second. And comes back in, just like before. With that organ hum, then hi-hats and bass. But this time, it’s somehow even better. I love a lot of Davis’ earlier work, but In A Silent Way is truly a whole other animal.

Side B is another suite, this time the Zawinul-penned titular track, sandwiching the Davis number “It’s About That Time.” “In A Silent Way” is a beautiful, soft ballad between guitar and keyboard that lets every note ring and flow just long enough to make me nostalgic for a time I don’t quite remember. But when Davis’ trumpet comes in with an overlaid melody, be still my beating heart, I feel like I’m falling in love for the first time again. But after a few minutes, the underlying harmonies start to get just a little darker and the melody starts to get a little more dissonant and just when I start to feel it, it ends and the funk-infused “It’s About That Time” kicks in. This one doesn’t have the same driving rhythms that “Shhh” and “Peaceful” had and it takes its time on the main themes longer than Side A, but the melody in the organ is just as strong, if not stronger. This is where Shorter’s sax really shines, too. The entire midsection of this piece is playing off a simple, but perfect melody that I never want to end, but of course, like all things on this record, it suddenly stops just when it really starts to hit its stride, going right back into the reflective and tranquil beauty of “In A Silent Way,” but this time closing out the record with a flawless reprise.

Miles Davis was never satisfied doing the same old thing over and over again. He could’ve easily kept cranking out albums derivative of some of his earlier masterpieces like A Kind Of Blue or Sketches Of Spain. But he didn’t. He pushed fusion into the mainstream, often up against the derision of both critics and audiences, and brought jazz into the world of so many new listeners. His entire “electric period” is brilliant, but my favorite is the one that really started it all. Yes, he hinted at a few of the things to come on the record or two before it, but In A Silent Way stands out as his testament to always push forward. Building from where he was, but never afraid to show just how far he was willing to go. Heading in to 2019, I think that’s as inspiring a message as I’m gonna find, and I hope for just a fraction of the creative bravery found on this record.

33 And 1/3 Under 45 – Track Three: The Berlin Trilogy Part 2 – “Heroes”

33 and ⅓ is a monthly music column by Ryan Lynch, exploring the records that keep him inspired in a cynical world.

You can find episodes on frondsradio.com and be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Google PlayStitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have any suggestions or thoughts, my twitter handle is @stoopkidliveson and I’d love to hear from you. You can find Ryan’s band, Premium Heart, on facebook or twitter for upcoming releases and shows.

The original column was published on December 22nd, 2018 and can be found below.

Something in the night
Something in the day
Nothing is wrong but darling, something’s in the way
There’s slaughter in the air
Protest on the wind
Someone else inside me
Someone could get skinned, how?
(My, my) someone fetch a priest
You can’t say no to the beauty and the beast

I’m back and so is Bowie! Last week, I covered his 1977 masterpiece, Low. And don’t worry! Next week I’ll be talking about the final piece of the trilogy, Lodger.

But today is all about “Heroes.”

If Low was about facing your demons and recognizing where you went wrong, “Heroes” is all about what comes after that realization. From the opening track, “Beauty And The Beast,” I could feel Bowie’s desire to grow. But not by forgetting the past or ignoring your mistakes. Our flaws and origin stories are a part of us, whether or not we let them define us; ignoring them only makes it harder to prevent slipping back into those old habits.

I wanted to believe me
I wanted to be good
I wanted no distractions
Like every good boy shouldNothing will corrupt us
Nothing will compete
Thank god heaven left us
Standing on our feet
(My, my)
Beauty and the beast

Facing my struggles head on really is the only way I’ve found that helps me get over them. Pretending that you’re perfect just creates a cycle of constant avoidance and Bowie lays that out on this record. Like in “Joe The Lion,” a song that, to me, pretty clearly makes a case against the strong face we put all of our energy into maintaining instead of just letting everything in. It creates a cycle of “always on guard, always defensive” that isn’t good for anybody.

You get up and sleep
Joe the lion
Made of iron

I’ve always had trouble with letting little things go. I always hold grudges and because of that, the slightest things set me off. This has been a pretty constant theme of my arguments with those I care about, as I’m so often saying “No, it has barely anything to do with this thing, it’s a larger issue.” If I could just address the issues as they happened, instead of staying silent at the time, these things wouldn’t build up so badly and I wouldn’t put all of my stresses onto one innocuous event. Moments that seem trivial to others often become these huge turning points, character defining moments, or silent breakdowns for me.

Sons of the silent age
Listen to tracks by Sam Therapy and King Dice
Sons of the silent age
Pick up in bars and cry only once
Sons of the silent age
Make love only once but dream and dream
Don’t walk, they just glide in and out of life
They never die, they just go to sleep one day

Like Low,“Heroes” ends with several instrumental tracks that are just as beautifully constructed by Bowie and Eno as the ones from the last record. “Sense Of Doubt” is a terrifying and deep bass-heavy piece, but with swells of treble optimism. “Moss Garden” is an exploration of calm tranquility. “Neukoln” feels like a tense, dissonant sci-fi soundtrack that draws from both of the previous pieces. Just sit in a room and spend a few minutes with headphones on. I think this block is even more immersive and well-constructed than the ones on Low and are worth really diving into. They close the record with questions on where to go, like Low, but this time, I felt like some of the answers were hidden in there. Just waiting to be revisited and re-contextualized when I was ready for them. Now, of course, I can’t leave without talking about the title track. But I’m going to break chronology again and talk about another song first, “Blackout.” It pairs well with my main takeaway from “Heroes,” that the only way to really accept and move on from your flaws is to take them one day at a time. One of the major beliefs I hold is that love is the most empowering force in the world. Sure, I’ve had plenty of times in my life where I projected way too much of my happiness and self-worth on a relationship, but that unhealthy dynamic too often overshadows the inspiration and strength that we can pull from love. “Blackout” sets up the co-dependence trap that so many of us have fallen into. We’re all waiting to be saved, waiting for a dramatic kiss in the rain that fills all the emptiness, but if you wait for someone else to do all the work, you’ll never get there.

If you don’t stay tonight
I will take that plane tonight
I’ve nothing to lose, nothing to gain
I’ll kiss you in the rain

Get me to the doctor
Get me off the streets
(Get some protection)
Get me on my feet
(Get some direction)
Hot air gets me into a blackout
Oh, get me off the streets
Get some protection
Oh, get me on my feet

That brings us to the title track, ““Heroes.”” This song means the world to me. What does it mean to be a hero? Is it always being perfect? Is it always being the strong one saving everyone? No. A hero is someone who loves. A hero is someone who lets themselves be loved. They draw on the strength from those that they love and that love them back. They lift each other up and work together. Everyday we fight the villainy of our own inner demons. We don’t always win, but together, we can learn how to not lose, just one day at a time. All it takes to be a hero is to do what you can, even if it’s just for one day.

I will be King and you will be Queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can beat them, just for one day

It’s not about erasing or hiding your weaknesses. It’s about embracing them. Maybe as a cautionary tale. Maybe to see those same weaknesses in people we can help. Maybe just to remind yourself how far you’ve come and how strong you truly are.

And you can be mean and I’ll drink all the time
Cause we’re lovers and that is a fact
Yes, we’re lovers, and that is that
Though nothing will keep us together
We could steal time, just for one day

Even if we aren’t strong enough today; maybe today we just can’t fight. So? There’s no harm in trying. And that’s all a hero is. Someone who tries, no matter what. No one’s a hero until they try to be one.

I can remember standing by the wall
And the guns shot above our heads
And we kissed, as though nothing could fall
And the shame was on the other side
We can beat them, for ever and ever
We’re nothing, and nothing will help us
Maybe we’re lying, then you better not stay
But we could be safe, just for one day

So who can be a hero?

We can be Heroes –  Just for one day – What d’you say?

33 And 1/3 Under 45 – Track Two: The Berlin Trilogy Part 1 – Low

33 and ⅓ is a monthly music column by Ryan Lynch, exploring the records that keep him inspired in a cynical world.

You can find episodes on frondsradio.com and be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Google PlayStitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have any suggestions or thoughts, my twitter handle is @stoopkidliveson and I’d love to hear from you. You can find Ryan’s band, Premium Heart, on facebook or twitter for upcoming releases and shows.

The original column was published on December 15th, 2018 and can be found below.

Baby, I’ve been breaking glass in your room again
Listen don’t look at the carpet
I drew something awful on it
See you’re such a wonderful person
But you got problems
I’ll never touch you

It’s been a rough month. The only way I can bring myself to describe it is transitional. And my main companion throughout it has been David Bowie. Last month, I talked about why and when I started listening to Bowie, so I won’t reiterate, but the shorthand context is that I just got married and election day came and went. And for this month, I’m going to dive into my favorite era and for the next few weeks, I’ll be covering an album from the Berlin Trilogy.

Up first is Low.

I’m new to the whole Bowie catalog and… lore would probably be the best way to describe the many personas and phases of his career. The first album that really resonated with me was the incredible Station To Station, under his Thin White Duke persona. Which if you don’t know, is an interesting and controversial era for him, when he made a lot of seemingly pro-fascist remarks, which he later attributed to cocaine and drug abuse. Following the end of that era, Bowie moved to the still-divided city of Berlin to escape the toxicity of his lifestyle in LA and work on his next three records with Brian Eno, the first of which is Low.

When I first learned this context, I had already fallen in love with the record, after getting caught in a blizzard with it for a very tense two hour drive home in the snow, but the story behind it made me take a closer look at what Bowie was trying to say. I was soon struck by just how much it really resonated with my feelings over the last month. From “Be My Wife.”

Sometimes you get so lonely. Sometimes you get nowhere

Please be mine
Share my life
Stay with me
Be my wife

I hadn’t realized just how much of my anxiety and anger at the world was being scapegoated into the aforementioned wedding and election. I was constantly saying “Once we get through this, we’ll finally have time to…” and “Once this all goes right, I’ll be way better, I promise” to no one but myself. Afterwards, I felt… empty? The wedding was perfect and the election was a wave. Objectively, everything should be great now, but I wasn’t being honest with my problems in the first place. Just like Bowie’s (and America’s) temporary love affair with unchecked fascism, I was putting so much faith in this larger idea to just fix everything without having to actually rectify the issues inside of me. Hoping to be saved left me bottling up a lot of things I’ve struggled with for years, like my anger. I started really retreating into myself, choosing headphones over my stereo and sitting alone in my office instead of working in the open living room. Too often, when I tried to open up, I just found myself in another argument. More often than not they were either my own fault or I was over exaggerating the effect of someone else’s flaws. The next song, “What In The World,” lays it out better than I can.

Deep in your room, you never leave your room
Something deep inside of me – yearning deep inside of me
Talking thru the gloom
What in the world can you do?
I’m in the mood for your love
I’m just a little bit afraid of you
So what you gonna say and what you gonna do?
Ah, what you gonna be?

I’ve always struggled with a lot of internal rage. At society, at my friends, at my family, the list goes on. I’m always aware that I’m flying off the handle, but I just can’t bring myself to stop. Even when, no, especially when those that I love are the focus, I can’t help it. I hate it, but I’m trying. Throughout Low, Bowie talks a lot about how hard it is to break the toxic cycles that define us, even when you know you’re being watched by those affected. In “Always Crashing The Same Car:”

Jasmine, I saw you peeping
As I put my foot down to the floor
I was going round and round the hotel garage
Must have been touching close to ninety-four

But I’m always crashing in the same car

Structurally, Low is a fascinating album. The first 7 songs are complete, but only just. They’re primarily shorter snippets, some instrumental, that fade out right when you start to get the feel of what Bowie was going for. As soon as I felt the connection and message I was looking for, Bowie leaves, leaving us both with the same problems we had before he started. This happens over and over on the record; I’m never ready to hear the end of a song like “Sound And Vision.”

Pale blinds drawn all day
Nothing to read
Nothing to say
Blue Blue
I will sit right down
Waiting for the gift of sound and vision
And I will sing
Waiting for the gift of sound and vision
Drifting into my solitude
Over my head
Don’t you wonder sometimes
‘Bout sound and vision?

And the way the album ends is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard. The final songs are mostly instrumental (or with atmospheric and often non-English vocals), so I can’t really show you any excerpts here. During the following year’s tour, he opened with the first of these “Warszawa” to make sure the audience was patient and ready to really experience the show (side note, listen to David Bowie: Stage, it might be my favorite live album). These pieces sound like the perfect soundtrack to my favorite movie, whether it exists or not. They’re somber. They’re complex. They’re so… deep and rich in instrumentation and tone. This is exactly what I’ve been feeling sounds like and that… helps.

The Berlin trilogy’s first entry really means the world to me and really set me up to try to face my issues head on instead of projecting and scapegoating. How’s that going? Next week, I’ll talk about how “Heroes” started to help me answer that question.

Care-line driving me – Share bride falling star

33 & 1/3 Under 45: The Demo Tape – Kindly Keep It Down, Just Try To Get Some Sleep

33 and ⅓ is a monthly music column by Ryan Lynch, exploring the records that keep him inspired in a cynical world.

You can find episodes on frondsradio.com and be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Google PlayStitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have any suggestions or thoughts, my twitter handle is @stoopkidliveson and I’d love to hear from you.

The original column was published on May 28th, 2018 can be found below.

Oh, for once in my
Oh, for once in my life
Could just something go
Could just something go right?

I don’t think I enjoy media anymore. Well, that’s a lie. I still love things, just not in the same ways I used to. I used to just pop on a record or watch a movie and just enjoy the ride without analyzing every single emotional beat and what it means to me at that exact moment. That’s a lie, too, but it’s easier to pretend that this is some big shift into the dramatic.

The first time I heard The Decemberists’ I’ll Be Your Girl, their newest record, I was driving home from a late night meetup with some friends on Record Store Day with my better half asleep in the front seat. When the first song, “Once In My Life,” started, it seemed like the Decemberists I’ve loved for a decade and I was feelin’ it. But then all these synths came in and I was… feelin’ it less. If you’ve never listened to them, they mostly write folky songs about boats and chimneys and medieval queens. After that first listen through, the record sat on my shelf for a month and didn’t get a whole lot of revisiting. Fast forward and I’m listening to it on repeat and crying on the side of the highway. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Since the election, I’ve been struggling with a lot. I feel guilty when I enjoy things that seem “trivial,” but I’ve also felt that those things are more important than ever. I’ve always been an escapist, but I was having a harder time escaping and not yelling “But think about what it represents in a larger context! Think about the ramifications of this story in Trump’s America!” to any squirrel or rabbit who hadn’t yet learned to run away at the first sign of “Post-modern breakdown Ryan.” This was embodied by my two favorite releases of 2017: Paramore’s After Laughter and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. They captured the dichotomy of this feeling better than I could explain. After Laughter is an 80s-style synth-pop record that’s so easy to dance to. But on the first listen, I missed just how sad Hayley Williams’ lyrics were on it. The big single from the album, “Hard Times,” was my “fun song of the summer,” but… well, I’ll let her explain.

All that I want
Is to wake up fine
Tell me that I’m alright
That I ain’t gonna die
All that I want
Is a hole in the ground
You can tell me when it’s alright
For me to come out

Gonna make you wonder why you even try
Hard times – gonna take you down and laugh when you cry
These lives – and I still don’t know how I even survive
Hard times –  And I gotta get to rock bottom

And my favorite song of the record, “Fake Happy,” is… pretty self explanatory. Just like my 2017: wow, there’s a lot of great stuff in here and it’s so much fun! But woah, this narrator just shoe horns in some sad and self loathing stuff the whole time!

I’m not gonna go into a whole thing about Last Jedi. Enough people have heard my rant on how it’s all about identity politics and rejecting the savior mentality of the Berniecrats in a post-Obama world, while also rejecting the obsession with legacy and the past that the establishment Democrats won’t leave behind. But there’s so many good jokes and fun settings in it! So yeah, Star Wars.

So that brings me to The Decemberists and I’ll Be Your Girl. Knowing that it had some poppier production, I figured it would be a fun escape from all the terrible. And this time, I really listened to Colin Meloy’s lyrics. It wasn’t! At all! The opening lines are up at the top, but hell, did I start feelin’ it this time through. The songs seem dancy and poppier than the Decemberists have ever been, but the lyrics are maybe Colin’s best. There’s a track that sounds like a real throwback to the lighthearted mid-00s sound that I frequently pined to when it played over a crush’s myspace page, but with an added choir of children singing “We All Die Young.” I pulled open the case and saw a caricature of the president with a lyric in a world bubble. Looking for the full context, I found:

I alone am the answer
I alone will make wrongs right
But in order to root out the cancer
It’s got to be kept from the sight

I was born to a jackal
I was born in a whiteout
Gonna smother you all till I choke you
Gonna smother you all till you kick out

I realized that this album completed my trifecta of “happy, but not really,” when the campy “Everything Is Awful” came on. And I couldn’t help but say, out loud, to no one, “He’s not wrong.” And that silly, but tragic tune perfectly set the stage for my emotional wreck on the highway.

Right after “Everything Is Awful,” “Sucker’s Prayer” starts. I don’t know why this one resonated with me so hard. Maybe it’s the classic Decemberists’ sound that shines through. It sounds like The Band, but with anxiety. Maybe it’s just the day I was having. Maybe it’s because it was the third time through the record that day and it was finally sinking in. Whatever the reason, I found myself singing along as tears filled my eyes. And right then and there, in New York rush hour traffic, I realized something. This certainly wasn’t the album I wanted. But Christ, was it the album I needed.

I was not ready for the road
I was so discontent to wear that heavy load
And so I got down on my knees
I made a sucker’s prayer
A grim bode of baudelaire before

And when nobody did respond
I took my glasses off and went to find a pond
Stuffing rocks into the pockets of my pants
And when I waded in
Those currents carried them away

I wanna love somebody but I don’t know how
I’ve been so long lonely and it’s getting me down
I wanna throw my body in the river and drown
I wanna love somebody but I don’t know how

33 & 1/3 Under 45: Track 12 – Stranger Songs

33 and ⅓ is a monthly music column by Ryan Lynch, exploring the records that keep him inspired in a cynical world.

You can find episodes on frondsradio.com and be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Google PlayStitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have any suggestions or thoughts, my twitter handle is @stoopkidliveson and I’d love to hear from you.

The original column was published on May 15th, 2019 can be found below.

Ryan’s Bass Tone Spotify Playlist for his new record: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/39rbB9NlgBVseO4o9nPqf5

Welcome to the freak show

Brace yourself. I’ve never seen Stranger Things. I’ve never seen a whole lot of stuff, but Stranger Things is one of those rare cultural zeitgeist kinda things that everyone seems to really love. Sure, everyone was talking about Game Of Thrones, but half of the takes were about how trash it was. Everyone saw Avengers: Endgame, but there was still a lot of hate out there for it. I’ve never really heard anyone say anything negative about Stranger Things, though. I’ll watch it one of these days, I promise! But until then, I’ll gladly just cherish this rare thing where everyone I know all seems to be really into it and just bask in it. Which brings me to the new Ingrid Michaelson record, Stranger Songs.

As far as I can tell, this album isn’t officially affiliated with Stranger Things at all and is just heavily inspired by it. So, like I constantly do, Ingrid was just inspired by a piece of media and wrote a whole lot about how it made her feel, and thus, Stranger Songs was written. There’s something pure and beautiful about one of my biggest influences, just gushing about a TV show for 40 minutes through her music. (Ingrid’s been my favorite lyricist since high school and it’s only a matter of time before one of her early albums ends up in this column). It’s really cool to see someone whose work I so often project my feelings onto or to not feel so alone with, showcase the exact same thing for herself, even if I don’t get any of the references.

Welcome to the freak show, I got a place that we can go
Welcome to the freak show, I got a place nobody knows
Who wants to be normal anyway? What’s normal anyway?

The show seems to really hit some universal themes of love and rejection, themes that have always been prevalent in Ingrid’s work. It’s clear enough from the material itself, but right before the record came out, I saw her live for a “sneak peak” show and there was a lot of banter and explanation of why the show resonated with her so intensely. (As an aside, if you’ve never seen Ingrid, you really have to. She’s as hilarious as she is talented.) These universal themes shine through in songs like “Hate You.”

2 am, 3 am, then 4, I’ll never sleep, not like I did before
You’re the living nightmare that I always dream about
I can’t seem to live without you

I don’t hate you, I don’t hate you, I just hate how much I don’t hate you
God I want to, want to hate you, I just hate how much I don’t hate you

I don’t hate that you called our love bullshit when you were drunk that night
I don’t hate how much I love you, I don’t hate that I cry
And I don’t know why, oh why, oh why

Or in “Best Friend,” a song that captures the romantic tensions that become the focus of most coming of age stories, certainly mine.

Wide awake, I lay beside you
It’s in the middle of the night and I really want to
Wake you up, tell you my secret, that you’re the one I want

But I don’t want to mess this up, I don’t want to say too much
It always gets too real, when I tell them how I really feel

Here I go again, Falling in love with my best friend
Try to hold it in, but you’re making it hard, hard to pretend

And we don’t just fall in love with characters because they show our best traits. Like in “Jealous,” you can see Ingrid latching on to characters that fall into the same traps we all do. Universal flaws that we can never seem to get right.

Hurts bad seeing you out, knowing that you’re happy now
You’re laughing like the way we used to do
I feel it rising in me, I feel the tide pulling deep
I never knew I could be so mad at the one that I love, no

I do bad things when I’m jealous
I do bad things, I can’t help it, I can’t help it
It’s what you’re doing to me, ruining me, turning me upside down
Yeah, I do bad things when I’m jealous
And I’m jealous a lot

But more than anything, I think a good piece of pop culture can do a lot to break the norms and cause a paradigm shift in how we view societal status quos. Action and adventure stories have historically been a real boys’ club, and from all the recommendations I’ve gotten lately (I promise, I’ll watch it, I promise!), it seems like Stranger Things is opening up the genre and letting young girls be part of the adventure too, and that rules. Even if I haven’t seen it, or don’t need that as much as someone else might, I’m so damn glad it exists and will gladly pull up a chair and listen to someone tell me why it means the world to them. 

I’m done spinning ‘round and ‘round, planted my feet in the ground
I’m not afraid of the dark, I’m not afraid to get hurt

Head above the clouds, Mama, come look at me now
I’m not afraid of the world, I’m gonna fight like a girl

Running around with my long hair, tear in my dress and I don’t care
If you’re looking for something beautiful

I’m pretty sure that I’m all good, Walking away from you like I should
Washing it all away, I’m not just pretty
No, I’m pretty damn good.

Rosy cheeks and lips, she talks but nobody listens
That’s just the way of the world, I gotta fight like a girl

33 & 1/3 Under 45: Track 11 – The Con

33 and ⅓ is a monthly music column by Ryan Lynch, exploring the records that keep him inspired in a cynical world.

You can find episodes on frondsradio.com and be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Google PlayStitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have any suggestions or thoughts, my twitter handle is @stoopkidliveson and I’d love to hear from you.

The original column, published on May 15th, 2019 can be found here.

And now we’re saying bye. I was nineteen, call me.

Nostalgia sure is something. We all feel it from time to time, but sometimes it’s just relentless. I get it real bad every year around June; I think it has to do with my job. I’m a home school tutor, so I don’t spend a whole lot of time in actual schools until finals time, when I go in and out every day, focusing on exams, trying to power through the last few weeks before summer break. Being surrounded by kids waiting for that last class, or, even worse, applying to colleges and planning orientations, certainly doesn’t help it. Or maybe it’s just the way June smells. Because damn, late spring just has that smell, doesn’t it?

But this year’s been a lot stronger. Both the feeling and probably the smell, too, at least based on my allergies. This is my first finals season since my wedding and there is a certain grown-up vibe that that carries along with it. I’m back in a band with one of my oldest collaborators, writing totally new material from a familiar place. And yes, it would be dishonest if I didn’t mention that Banjo-Kazooie coming to Smash Bros got me all misty eyed. But most of all, I’m now more than a decade out from going away to college for the first time and a recent trip to my campus to meet up with my roommate was pretty brutal on the old nostalgia heartstrings. And on the long, solo trip home, I decided to really lean into it with some Tegan And Sara, specifically their 2007 album, The Con.

I miss you now, I guess, like I should’ve missed you then.
My body moves like curtains waving in and out of wind, in and out of windows.
I can’t untangle what I feel and what would matter most.
I can’t close an eye, can’t close an eyelid.
Now there’s just no point in reaching out for me.
In the dark, I’m just no good at giving relief. In the dark, it won’t be easy to find relief

I’ve always had a complicated relationship with nostalgia. I’ve never really wallowed in it, like a lot of people do, and I’ve never really taken solace in reflecting on the “good old days” either. I’ve certainly had times in my life where I was left pining for something that was over, but I’ve always been pretty good at looking towards the future and the things that are either already great or that will be. When I look back at previous eras of my life, it’s usually more as a narrative and a way to contextualize why I am the way I am or feel the way I do, not really as a yearning for the way things were. A lot of that definitely has to do with how lucky and privileged I’ve been, but I still have to work at it from time to time, especially in today’s macro-climate with… everything that’s going on. Sometimes I do get caught in a loop of really falling back into my old habits or way of looking at the world, and I find revisiting some quirks I’ve demonstrated in previous relationships, whether it be romantic or friendly, that pushed those people away from me. Habits that I’m not proud of and would really love to exorcise completely. The more of my narrative people become a part of, the harder it is to keep those parts closed off. And walking through some buildings on campus for the first time in 7 years really started re-contextualizing a lot of those patterns. So it’s no wonder that on that trip back home, songs like “Back In Your Head” ended up on repeat.


I just want to get back into your head.
I’m not unfaithful, but I’ll stray.
When I get a little scared, I run, run, run
When I jerk away from holding hands with you,
I know these habits hurt important parts of you.
Remember when I was sweet and unexplainable?
Nothing like this person, un-loveable

Or in “Hop A Plane”

I took the train back, back to where I came from.
I took it all alone, it’s been so long, I know.
Imagine me there my heart asleep with no air.
Begging ocean please, help me drown these memories.
You can’t just hop a plane and come visit me again.
I claim it’s in my head and I regret offering.
You take a second, take a year,
You took me out and took me in and told me all of this
And then you take a moment, take a year,
You helped me out, I listened in,
You taught me all of this and then….

And in the closer, “Call It Off”

Maybe I would have been something you’d be good at.
Maybe you would have been something I’d be good at.
But now we’ll never know.
I won’t be sad, but in case, I’ll go there everyday to make myself feel bad.
There’s a chance I’ll start to wonder if this was the thing to do.
I won’t be out long, but I still think it better if you take your time coming over here.
I think that’s for the best.

These themes make up a whole lot of this album. It mostly focuses on lost love, but through a nostalgic lens. I’m finally beyond pining for past love, but that doesn’t stop me from empathizing when an album pushes me back in that headspace. Especially an album like The Con because the soundscape of the record is so much more than that. The punchy guitars and dynamic drums help bolster Tegan & Sara’s trademark vocal styles to really drive home the dichotomy between the joy and pain that always accompanies these kinds of themes. Finding the balance between looking back fondly to learn from the past and wallowing in the exaggerated high points of yesterday is never easy. And this struggle is throughout the album, like on The Con‘s title track.

I listened in, yes I’m guilty of this, you should know this.
I broke down and wrote you back before you had a chance to.
Forget forgotten, I am moving past this, giving notice.
I have to go, yes, I know that feeling, know you’re leaving.
Calm down I’m calling you to say I’m capsized, erring on the edge of safe.
Calm down I’m calling back to say I’m home now and coming around
I’m coming around

Nobody likes to, but I really like to cry,
Nobody likes me, maybe if I cry.

But opening up and being honest about those flaws help show the growth we fight for. If we never had those times end, we’d be stuck in the monotony of an unchanging status quo and we’d never learn anything new. It’s important to acknowledge how we’ve changed and take pride in that. Openness about your personal struggles to overcome your flaws is the very embodiment of intimacy. The Con is a beautiful blueprint of pure intimate honesty. It opens with a wedding filled with pure self-reflective joy. It ends with a self-fulfilling breakup. But it’s not a linear progression. Like all of us, the record is a roller coaster of love and loss that never lets up its’ beauty for a second. And I hope none of us do, either.

I want to draw you a floorplan of my head and heart.
I want to give directions, helpful hints, what you’ll be looking for.
I know, I hold this loss in my heart forever. All eyes are on me now.

33 & 1/3 Under 45: Track 10 – In The End

33 and ⅓ is a monthly music column by Ryan Lynch, exploring the records that keep him inspired in a cynical world.

You can find episodes on frondsradio.com and be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have any suggestions or thoughts, my twitter handle is @stoopkidliveson and I’d love to hear from you.

The original column, published on May 15th, 2019 can be found below

Do you remember? Do you recall? Do you remember? ‘Cause I remember it all.
So over now. It’s so over now. So over now. It’s so over now.

I’ve been thinking about grief a lot lately. Way more than I should, that’s for sure. A lot of it centered around death, but not in a way that I’m used to. So if you don’t want to read any thoughts on death right now, feel free to hop out here.

I’ve always been pretty good at compartmentalizing the “celebrate their lives rather than mourn their deaths” kind of grieving and often end up being the first one to crack some dumb joke and try to make people smile again. Not that I don’t get depressed about it, too, that’s just not where I really find my grief. Mine usually comes more from the realization that the end of someone’s story is some random, arbitrary jumping off point, and knowing that I’ll never be ready for it.

Rolling on the grass, some things never last
Just stay for a while, we could have a blast
How can I go on without you now?
How can I live without you when you have become my everything?
Maybe we’ll have an accident.
You are my everything. The song that I might sing
You are my everything

I was thinking a lot about this even before I picked up the final Cranberries album, In The End, but this record certainly drove it home for me.I’ve had a passing fondness for The Cranberries for a long time, but nothing deeper than remembering how good “Zombies” was in 1994. But right around the time this album came out, the podcast Song Exploder had an episode about the opening track, “All Over Now” and I immediately ran out and bought a copy. If you’re not up to date with The Cranberries, the singer, Dolores O’Riordan, passed away very unexpectedly last year, while they were still working on demos for In The End. After sitting on it for a while, the remaining band members decided to return to the studio with Dolores’ vocal demos and finish the record in her honor. I’m not sure how somber the original demos were, but the album’s a heartbreaking goodbye to Dolores, but with a healthy dose of optimistic self-reflection that really helped me sort through a lot of the grief I’d been focusing on lately.

I wonder when I should give in, I wonder when I should begin to let go.
I feel I’m dwelling in the past. I know the time is moving fast. I want you to know.
I’m lost with you. I’m lost without you.
Bring In The Night

Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older and a lot of the older artists I grew up following are starting to pass away more frequently. Maybe I’m just melodramatic and looking for an escape from all of my anger at the world. There’s a lot of reasons I’ve fallen into this cycle lately, but I’d like to focus on some of the more trivial ones, especially since I don’t really feel that it’s my place to project and discuss other peoples’ losses or grief. Recently, my favorite comic book character was killed off in a pretty… I’ll say problematic way. But I realized that I was way more angry about the way the book discussed and further stigmatized trauma and mental illness than about the fanboy complaints I had and it didn’t affect me in any of the ways I expected it to. After thinking on it for a while, I started to really re-evaluate how I viewed death, both as a narrative device and then in my own life. Because real death, unlike in fiction, is so random, I think we too often put too much weight on it. It’s just a moment, same as any other moment, in a person’s story and I don’t think it’s fair to belittle all the other moments that made up their lives, just to focus on the one where they weren’t any longer. By putting all of our sadness and focus on that single moment, it reduces an entire person to one thing. A monolith of regrets, unexperiences, wasted potential, emptiness. And I hate that. No matter who it was, I can guarantee they were way more than that. A story’s end only stays with us when the story was good enough to get us there. Recently, while in a discussion with a friend, I asked “Have you ever watched someone die? Because I have, and it really fucking sucks.” But the better question will always be “Could you tell me more about them?” I’d really like to hear about that instead. “I’m sorry for your loss” focuses on the hole that’s left, not what used to fill it. In The End, ironically enough, perfectly captures the love and joy that has to happen before you get the sadness that comes with saying goodbye.

People we should decide in society,
Whether we should go, whether we should be free.
Where will we live, when will we die. 
People we should decide in society.
Thought that I got it. And then I lost it all.
I got it. I know that I got it. I did not lose it all.

It’s easy enough to remind yourself of these platitudes from time to time, but that’s not the entirety of it. What about the people that get left behind? The stories that don’t end there? That’s really where my dread has been focused lately. All the things you regret, the experiences you don’t get to share, the plans left unrealized, the emptiness. And even when you didn’t know them personally, that option to learn all those things about them is forever closed off. Death, even from a distance, affects all of us so greatly.

Yesterday’s gone. Yesterday’s gone. And I’m open, I’m open
Tomorrow will come, tomorrow will come.
Am I dreaming, dreaming?
I’m sorry I left you. I’m sorry, I love you.
I felt so much pain there. I went insane there

There was another school shooting last week and I was inundated, as we all so often are, by interviews and images of the children that were there. Yet again, we didn’t take the basic steps to prevent this. So focused on the inevitability of it, those with the power to stop it continue to fail us time and time again. But this time, I saw kids who had “trained” for this or wouldn’t “go down without a fight” and I can’t stop thinking about how horrible that is. It’s one thing to talk of all the ways we can deal with death and it’s another thing to see what effect the constant reminder has had. There’s a difference between grief and trauma. How do we walk the line between being prepared for it and expecting it? How do we give it the gravity it deserves without over-representing its’ importance in the narrative? I don’t think we can. I think we’ll always be shocked and broken by it. We just need to learn how to help each other cope. We should try to remember that everyone’s carrying some grief around with them every day and if we have the opportunity to lend even the smallest amount of strength to help them when they need it, someone will be there to return it when we’re the ones in need. We need to be able to go back in and revisit the good parts without being buried underneath the heartbreak of it all.

Sometimes I wake up in a bedroom, Sometimes I just stare into space
How big is this place? How big is this place?
‘Cause I’m feeling the pressure. You know I feel under pressure
When I’m feeling the pressure
You make me feel so much better

It would have been easier for Noel, Mike, and Fergal to just retire the Cranberries. It would have been easier to not listen to the tapes of Dolores’ incredible demos over and over again as they crafted this record behind her memory. But I’m immensely grateful they did and I’m certainly better off for hearing them one last time. I think there’s a beauty in that strength in the face of loss that we can all take some inspiration from.

Whatever makes you feel good, whatever makes you feel alive.
It doesn’t have to be the heartbreaker, the heartbreaker.
The soul taker.
Whenever you decide to run. Whenever you decide to fly.
Always be the heartbreaker, the heartbreaker.
The soul taker

33 & 1/3 Under 45 Trailer: Tuning Up

33 and ⅓ is a monthly music column by Ryan Lynch, exploring the records that keep him inspired in a cynical world.

Hello everyone, and welcome to the Hidden Track at the beginning of this show. If this is your first time hearing 33 and ⅓ Under 45, there’s some stuff I have to get out of the way. This is a monthly music column and all written versions can be found on flyingmachine.network/blog and either click on my name, the music or 33 and ⅓ subcategories, or search for 33.

These audio versions were originally released on the Flying Machine Patreon 6 months prior to their release here, so if you want to get them early, or get exclusive access to the first 10 episodes and donor chosen columns, head over to patreon.com/flyingmachine and back us at the $1 level. If you don’t mind waiting, expect episodes here on the 5th of every month, with bonuses!

You can find episodes on frondsradio.com and be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have any suggestions or thoughts, my twitter handle is @stoopkidliveson and I’d love to hear from you. Enjoy!