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The Avett Brothers - Bob, Scott, and Seth

I’ve written before about how much I like the Avett Brothers.  Last month I picked up their newest album The Carpenter (Check out a great interview with Scott Avett about it) .  It is a really solid album, and I have greatly enjoyed it.  One song in particular has really stuck with me – “A Father’s First Spring.”  I’ve embedded a video of it below:

This song is about the birth of Scott Avett’s daughter Eleanor, and its lyrics are really powerful.:

The realest thing I ever felt

was the blood on the floor and the love in your yell

I was a child before

the day that I met Eleanor

I really identify with that (except substitute “Lily” for “Eleanor”).  15 years ago every father of a little girl was touched by “Butterfly Kisses,” this song helps me to understand that feeling (although I much prefer the Avett Brothers to Bob Carlisle).  I know that my life forever changed when I became a Dad to a little girl.  To quote further from the song:

When I’m in the sweet daughter’s eyes

My heart is now ruined for the rest of all time

I think another reason I have been so drawn to this song is the knowledge of what is going on with Bob Crawford.  Bob Crawford is the bassist of the Avett Brothers, and his daughter Hallie has battle brain cancer.  Here he is discussing their experience:

As a father of a little girl that has gone through surgery, I identify with this.  This is another reason I love this band. Their willingness to be open, their humility, and now, their efforts in aiding a place like St. Jude’s all make me like them all the more. I encourage you to go buy The Carpenter (for $6.99 on Amazon as of today). You won’t regret it.  Also, say a prayer for Bob’s daughter Hallie as she continues her treatments.

Until later friends…

Warning: This post references morally reprehensible things like adultery and murder. For the record, For Alsan…and the Volunteer State is opposed to both murder and adultery.

Video killed the radio star…at least someone said that once.  Yes, our culture is a visual one that assigns celebrity to untalented people like the entire cast of Jersey Shore.

Jersey Shore Ridiculous

Yet, the radio is not dead.  Music still speaks to everyone.  Jacques Barzun said, “Music is intended and designed for sentient beings that have hopes and purposes and emotions.”  I think there is something to that.  Musicians are our modern day poets.  I don’t think it is true that video killed the radio star, but it may well be that radio killed the poetry star.  Poets are no longer those that give voice to the human experience, it is the musicians.  True, many (if not most all) popular musicians are increasingly shallow in their thoughts (example: Lady Gaga and her ‘born this way’ argument).  Yet, truth is still found in almost every artistic expression.

As the title above indicates, I want to talk a little bit about adultery, murder, and music.  In the days of my grandparents people sang of innocent things like Cape Cod and such.  Somewhere along the way, people began to sing about real life.  Nowadays no topic is faux pas. Even if people lambast Eminem for rapping about beating women, his albums still sell by the millions (and Chrysler uses him as a spokesperson).

EminemI don’t want to discuss the broader theme of morality in music.  I have no plans of writing a thesis on the subject.  I was inspired to write this post by listening to my iPod.  While listening to my iPod on shuffle a while back, I realized that I have several songs about murder.  There are Johnny Cash murder ballads, and songs about people being shot in the Old West from Kernal Garner and Corb Lund.  If you listen to any country music, there is eventually going to be a song involving the shooting death of someone.  Yet, what troubled me was the discovery that I have two songs that share a common plot line of the singer discovering his girlfriend/wife/lover lady with another man and murdering that man.  These two songs are: “I Killed Sally’s Lover” by the Avett Brothers and “Wake Up Call” by Maroon 5.  These are both really catchy songs, even though they address an incredibly tragic situation  Adultery absolutely ruins lives.  This scenario is far too common, so it is not surprising that it makes it into mainstream media. Yet, can one write a song about such ruin and not trivialize it?    Let’s look at these two songs and make some evaluations.

I Killed Sally’s Lover

This song is upbeat and fun.  But it’s about adultery and murder.  That doesn’t seem to compute.  Based on the broader spectrum of Avett Brothers songs, I take this song as more of a satire.  If Eminem rapped about getting a pocket blade and a shotgun, it might be believable.  The Avett Brothers, on the other hand, are not the murdering kind.  I consider this song to be a tongue-in-cheek homage to redneck rage.  I think the song is fittingly summed up in the line: “But it ain’t worth the trouble, the suffering or the grief.  A bleeding heart is better than the penitentiary.”  Yes it is fellas.  Thank ya’ll for coming out against murder.

Wake Up Call

This song just has a different feel (and I don’t just mean musically).  Considering the fact that almost every single Maroon 5 song is about sexual immorality, this song seems pretty congruent with their repertoire.  Granted, I don’t see Adam Levine shooting someone…ever.  There is, however, a markedly different attitude in this song from “I Killed Sally’s Lover.”  This song really captures the anger of betrayal, but unlike the Avett Brothers, the murder is not denounced per se.  This song is summed up by the line: “I don’t feel so bad.”

So, are these songs evil?  Maybe, maybe not.  They definitely discuss a very evil situation; however, I don’t think either the Avett Brothers or Maroon 5 intend to support spousal murder.  Do they approach the issue with enough gravitas? Maybe not.  They do, however, capture certain emotional aspects of a heartbreaking (and anger-inducing) situation.  What do you think?  Does your conscience allow you to listen to these songs?

Until later friends…

At heart, I am not a city kind of guy.  I like the city alright.  The city is where you go to see concerts, ballgames, and such.  Yet, the city is also where the most crime happens.  And the city is where you have to parallel park (something I didn’t even have to do for my driver’s test in Tennessee!).  I first moved to the  city almost three years ago, and it was a bit of a culture shock.  I grew up in a rural area within a 10-15 minute drive of anything I needed, but my home was a haven.  Nestled in the hills of middle Tennessee, I grew up in my own Helm’s Deep of sorts.  It was a safe place.

When we first moved to Louisville, we moved straight into the city.  No suburb stuff for us.  We rented an apartment in an old house in the city.  It was in the former Limerick district across from a beautiful Catholic church.  We liked living in a house built ca. 1900, but we soon discovered that the house we saw in the daylight was much different than the one we experienced at night.  To make a long story short, after being burglarized we discovered that we were in fact living in a crack house.  Welcome to Louisville!  We promptly moved to a safer apartment, and restarted our life in the city with less stuff and more paranoia.

Any of you that have ever experienced a burglary before understand the paranoia and the feeling of violation that come with it.  I already had my own fair share of paranoia (e.g., ever since my dad read me a book about cowboys when I was a kid, I get nervous every time I sit down in a restaurant with my back to the door – even though I’m fairly sure that there is no one out there planning on shooting me in the back of the head).  After having been burglarized and having to go through the whole insurance claim process, I am paranoid about valuables.  I take pictures of every new thing we get and save it online.  So, you can understand why I look forward to moving back to the country one day.

You might say, For Aslan why all this talk about the dangers of the city?  Well, this was all brought to my mind because of the Avett Brothers.  If you have not yet listened to them, you must.  I was first introduced to their music last year, and I’m a big fan.  I just recently came across one of their songs that I have come to identify with due to my love for the country and my paranoia in the city.  The song is, “Murder in the City.”

I love this song.  It makes me think of home.  It reminds me of the blessing safety is.  It reminds me of how much I love my family.  It reminds me that although rural Tennessee is where I feel most at home, my true home is not in this world.   I hope you enjoy it too.

Until later friends…

 

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