Monday, August 28, 2017

Rediscovered Albums - Musicforthemorningafter by Pete Yorn

I always thought I hated Pete Yorn.  I'm not really sure why.  I couldn't tell you one song he sings.  At some point, I must have heard something by him and made a snap decision that he wasn't for me.  It doesn't happen often, but it happens.  Even owning a copy of his collaboration with Scarlett Johansson, which I loved, was not enough for me to listen to any of his catalog.  Then he turned 43.  The local Philly radio station played a song to celebrate his birthday.  The song was "Life on a Chain."  Suddenly, it was 2001 and I was in love.

Martin Sexton, Ryan Adams, and Elliott Smith.  This trio stood on the winners' podium in the 2001 Winter of Pain Olympics.  They navigated the moguls of heartache and misery and came out victorious.  2001 was blowing some snowdrifts in my path as well.  I had to slalom through fatherhood and a new job as the musical landscape was a downhill blur.  Angst and pain can be served as comfort food; a hot chocolate to warm the weary bones after a day on the slopes. These artists made it warm and cozy by adding it to a side dish of mellow folk-rock.  They dolloped on the heartache like whipped cream.  They plated emo into a sit-down meal, singing disjointed love songs that weren't harmonious with the popular music of that time frame.  Songs that let you know you were not the only one adding rum to your hot chocolate or sharing your feelings with a drink instead of your friends.  My medal winners let you see the raging blizzard inside their calm exterior.  I consumed all of their spirits until the flask was drained. I was tipsy and complacent.  The perfect cocktail.

I am sitting alone in much the same fashion I would have been in 2001.  Time has a way of letting you heal just enough before the next assault in the Misery Wars.  You have better triage, but time has new artillery.  That is where Pete Yorn walked in. Holding a time capsule that is quite relevant to me now.  Musicforthemorningafter is a collection of tales full of isolation and heartbreak set to harmonicas, acoustic guitars and the occasional tambourine.   It is a journey of finding yourself in train wreck of women and failed attempts at being an adult.  "Strange Condition" and "Just Another" are relatable enough to be included in shows like Dawson's Creek and The O.C to an audience that probably never got the irony. The thought of that makes me smile.

What is the difference between then and now?  For one, I am sharing my feelings with you.  A blog is much cheaper than a shrink.  All kidding aside, I've learned that no matter how bad the pain is, it is not unique.  Pain is not a snowflake.  Pain is a snow storm - and if a neighbor wants to help me shovel my car out I am not going to refuse.  Had I not had some of this music, I would still be shoveling myself out wondering if it is normal for my left arm to be numb and if anyone would call 911 when they see me lying on the sidewalk.  I have matured.  It's funny typing that.  I have matured.  Maturity has helped me realize how valuable these songs are.  "So I sold the town away, I couldn't wait to forget you.  I was killed in half a day, I hadn't time to regret you." Pete Yorn has been there.  He has navigated the snow-covered pain-scapes.  So have I.  So will you.  Pain is bittersweet. After all, how can tambourines be sad?

I like to think this album, and most albums, were written for me.  Given its gold status, there were at least a half of million people that feel the same way.  It is a collection of isolation for the masses.  With the recent losses of Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell it seems fitting I would discover this album now.  A piece of history that reminds me I don't know everything about music. I don't know everything about anything.  There are still discoveries to be made, music to be heard, and stories to share.  Along this journey, I am finding myself and realizing that I have a voice.  I would love to buy Pete Yorn a drink.  I want to compare notes.  I want to know if it gets better.  More importantly, I want to know if his left arm still goes numb. I have 911 on speed dial, just in case.

See you when the needle drops!


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