Really feeling this today. Boy. Many other posts I have read mark “Every Time the Sun Comes Up” by Sharon Van Etten as a song being about a flippant response to self-destruction. I hear that, but this song means more to me.
When I listen to it and read the lyrics, it reminds me so much of what it feels like to identify as a woman and outwardly appear as a woman but also what occurs when you act outside the societal norms and expectations of being a woman– being quiet and good and patient. Not asking for what you need. No bodily functions. Etc.
There is a constant sense of “being in trouble” if you act outside of this expectation or norm or, god forbid, ask for what you need or express how you feel earnestly. In fact, people often react even more angry towards women when women show (maybe even a rare) instances of assertiveness, boundary setting, or speaking up for yourself or even the facts. I am sadly speaking from experience on this one and have one too many stories where I felt threatened (physically and beyond) for standing up for myself or even saying “no”. However, it is more normal to be gaslit or talked back into being quiet in real life instances.
Obviously these gendered issues aren’t just a problem for women. All genders suffer when we are bound by these expectations. This line in particular though really resonated with me in terms of being a woman:
I washed your dishes, but I shit in your bathroom
Sharon Van Etten, “Every Time the Sun Comes Up”
I’ve included a live version above because if an artist can do their songs justice in a live setting, usually the experience is a bit more touching. I have also included the music video below because it’s a really charming music video featuring a man transforming himself into a sort of a Svengoolie type character (I guess; there may be some other cultural reference I am not picking up on; let me know if that is the case!).
There is a quote: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” It’s often misattributed to Albert Einstein, but I don’t know who actually said it.
Maybe it’s this weird blip in time. Maybe because many of us are relying on conversation more than pre-COVID. Probably a little of both. But I feel like I’ve been forced to look through a microscope at other peoples’ decisions (my own included). This is, of course, not true. I could choose to turn away or shut it out in many cases, and I do put up my boundaries when I get too tired (a skill that I am still learning a lot and developing). But sometimes I engage.
I think when someone invites us to look closely at them under a microscope, we start to lose our sense of self and autonomy. When you start to get lost in other people’s decisions or dramas, don’t lose your self. In fact, work harder than ever to hold on to yourself or rediscover and build out your identity even more.
I am sharing this CHVRCHES cover of the Arctic Monkeys‘ “Do I Wanna Know?” because to me, this song reeks of desperation and crawling back over and over again, which I’ve seen a lot of the past week. People can decide not to crawl and just sit with it (whatever “it” is). Then eventually maybe get up and start walking. Maybe in a different direction. This applies to the crazies we are examining and ourselves when we too closely examine crazies.
Lasting and healthy adult relationships, in every form (family, work, friends, etc.), should be reciprocal at least most of the time.
I wanted to share one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets, the amazing Chilean poet and politician Pablo Neruda (seriously, read his Wiki).
A former boyfriend gifted me with 20 Poemas de Amor y una Cancion Desesperada which, in retrospect, was a pretty thoughtful gift from an 18/19 year old boy. I’m not sure how my heart didn’t explode, and I hope the youths are still sharing these kinds of beautiful gifts. Anyway, the gift of Neruda has stood the test of time both physically and mentally. I often revisit Neruda even though reading him takes a specific level of vulnerability.
I recently stumbled upon this very sentimental video with a velvety reading of Poema 20 a.k.a “Tonight I can Write”, and I had to share it:
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
Write, for example, “The night is starry and the blue stars shiver in the distance.”
The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines. I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.
Through nights like this one I held her in my arms. I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.
She loved me sometimes, and I loved her too. How could one not have loved her great still eyes.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines. To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.
To hear the immense night, still more immense without her. And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.
What does it matter that my love could not keep her. The night is starry and she is not with me.
This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance. My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer. My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.
The same night whitening the same trees. We, of that time, are no longer the same.
I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her. My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.
Another’s. She will be another’s. As she was before my kisses. Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.
I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her. Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer and these the last verses that I write for her. (Trans. W.S. Merwin)
The original: Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
Escribir, por ejemplo: “La noche está estrellada, y tiritan, azules, los astros, a lo lejos”.
El viento de la noche gira en el cielo y canta.
Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche. Yo la quise, y a veces ella también me quiso.
En las noches como ésta la tuve entre mis brazos. La besé tantas veces bajo el cielo infinito.
Ella me quiso, a veces yo también la quería. Cómo no haber amado sus grandes ojos fijos.
Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche. Pensar que no la tengo. Sentir que la he perdido.
Oir la noche inmensa, más inmensa sin ella. Y el verso cae al alma como al pasto el rocío.
Qué importa que mi amor no pudiera guardarla. La noche está estrellada y ella no está conmigo.
Eso es todo. A lo lejos alguien canta. A lo lejos. Mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.
Como para acercarla mi mirada la busca. Mi corazón la busca, y ella no está conmigo.
La misma noche que hace blanquear los mismos árboles. Nosotros, los de entonces, ya no somos los mismos.
Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero cuánto la quise. Mi voz buscaba el viento para tocar su oído.
De otro. Será de otro. Como antes de mis besos. Su voz, su cuerpo claro. Sus ojos infinitos.
Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero tal vez la quiero. Es tan corto el amor, y es tan largo el olvido.
Porque en noches como ésta la tuve entre mis brazos, mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.
Aunque éste sea el último dolor que ella me causa, y éstos sean los últimos versos que yo le escribo.
The drunken history of country great George Jones is documented a little too well.
There is nothing like a good drunk story, and luckily, there is no shortage of drunk celebrities to provide those.
Enter the rich-voiced country singer and songwriter George Jones. Known as ‘The Possum’ because of his beady little eyes and long nose, he was so devastated by alcoholism, he was in and out of medical treatment the majority of his life. Additionally, he was often so sauced he wouldn’t show up for concerts which earned him the name: ‘No Show Jones’.
One of my favorite George Jones song is “The Race is On”. Here is an early live performance where The Possum is very obviously hammered.
While we have no shortage of vids of drunken celebrities now, pre-Internet and smart device society made it more difficult to have access to these exploits. However, that are plenty of tales of The Possum’s drunkness as well as videos like the one I posted below.
While The Possum’s exploits are entertaining, reading about the length of his alcoholism and the issues it caused for himself and those who worked with him and loved him is heartbreaking.
Here is a short list of more infamous drunken or drugged up George Jones incidents:
Drove a lawnmower to the liquor store (more than once) after his car keys were taken away.
Flipped over a table at after future wife Tammy Wynette‘s second husband called Tammy Wynette a “son of a bitch” (I actually don’t know if he was drunk during this, but it’s a pretty crazy story, regardless).
Checked into a neurological unit of a hospital to get treatment for drinking problems
Was committed to a psych unit (in a strait jacket) more than once delusions caused by alcoholism
Allegedly shot at Tammy Wynette with a shot gun and beat her (alleged by Tammy Wynette)
Shot at a friend and almost hit them while drunk
Started doing cocaine
Missed shows; garnered lawsuits
Didn’t pay child support
Was homeless and living in a car
Lost weight to the point he was under 100 lbs.
Wrecked his finances
Wrecked multiple vehicles
His daughter got kidnapped because of his issues with drug dealers
In 1999, had his last drunken car crash and pleaded guilty to drunk driving charges. If you’re not counting at home…that’s at least roughly 34 years of being an alcoholic.
After that list, Mississippi girl Tammy Wynette is going to get her own post on this blog because she seems like the kind of person who makes me want to believe in heaven. She was down here as an Earth Angel, cleaning up some stuff and doing her own suffering, before God called her up, rather early at age 55, to the big leagues.
So after all of this, I feel like I would dislike George Jones. However, he appeared to be a very troubled man with many vices that needed serious help and at times, couldn’t be helped. Luckily, he appears to have cleaned up for over a decade before passing away in at the surprisingly ripe old age 81 in April 2013.
There is plenty more I could write about the man as he is a legend and, from what it appears, despite being afflicted with a terrible disease, had plenty of good intentions and a good heart. By all accounts, I’ve read he was sheepish and self-deprecating when it came to recounting his issues with drugs and alcohol. He certainly left us with some entertaining stories as well as cautionary tales (why not both?).
I wanted to share something a little different today.
Specifically, I want to share a poem by Warsan Shire. She is a contemporary poet and a fantastic poet in general. Her spoken word poem “For women who are ‘difficult’ to love.” is one that a friend shared a few years ago and has stayed with me over the years. There are several fan-made videos that try to capture the feel of Warsan’s spoken word recording, but this is my favorite:
There are many poems and songs about heartbreak, but there are few that capture the feeling of simply being too much.
There are a lot of other contemporary poets I have been following lately. Here is the short list:
In 2013 and 2014, I was working in music and constantly being introduced to a slew of music– it was literally my job. Perhaps it was the timing, but many of my favorite performers from that time period are indie pop and indie rock bands: Dum Dum Girls, War Paint, and Wet.
Over time, Wet’s tracks from their self-tiled extended play and the tracks from their 2016 full length album Don’t You have stood the test of time. The track I posted above is called “Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl”, and the lyrics are as you’d expect: I’ve reached the end of the rope, and I don’t want to be your girl no more. This song will serve as your bff for the message you need to deliver.
On paper, the lyrics might sound aggressive or like they could placed into a fast pace pop anthem. However, Wet has a very relaxing sound with lots of synth and harmonies that feel like they might bring me to tears at times. If I didn’t know the lyrics, they almost sound holy at times.
I loved the single in 2014, but I remember thinking “How can they possibly replicate this brilliance into so many songs?”. Spoiler: they did.
“Love is Not Enough” is another release by Wet. I am not sure what your reaction will be, but this song touches me so deeply, I can only listen to it so often.
The lyrics have an intended meaning that I overlook because every time I hear this song, it reminds me of an article by Mark Manson titled “Love is Not Enough“. The song fits the sentiment of the article if you’ve ever been on the downward trending side of love not being enough.
However, “Love is Not Enough”, the song, also says “Don’t let them tell you, love is not enough.” Like many things in life, there are gray areas or situational differences. In what situation and when is love not enough for or is it enough for?
As a practical person in the business of compartmentalizing, I think, on the day-to-day, love is not enough. Maybe people who read this will think I am a total Debby Downer. Put away your pitchforks, boys. This day-to-day existence is way more special and honorable than what we think of as romantic love. If someone is willing to return to the nest and take part in your active aging, farting, burping, and other joys of being a biological lifeform with an overactive piece of slowly failing CPU, that’s truly a testament to a bond.
However, in the greater sense of life [the big moments], I do think we see and feel love is very much enough, and it is up to us on how we leverage that to set people free.