Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Song of the Week: Bryan McPherson

(song of the week + a lot more words than I was expecting)
Many times I don’t remember the first time that I hear song. But with "Workers Song" by Bryan McPherson, I remember.  I was walking out of work one late night, crossing the street, fiddling with my ipod, looking for my metro card and gloves, and I stopped mid crosswalk. The song completely blew me away.  A car honking brought me back to reality and I did not die that night. (Don’t get any ideas; DC drivers usually aren’t that polite.) But what I did do was keep hitting repeat on the song. All the way to the metro, down the long subways steps, through the turnstile, down some more steps and on the train.
Bryan McPherson is a songwriter originally from Boston but now living in the California Bay Area. Some people may be put off by political/protest/socially conscious songs, but as one that grew up with my head full of folk songs and punk rock (which are basically the same thing), I love them. I like to know and feel and hear that people actually care, passionately, about things. That is why I love the rawness in McPherson’s voice, it’s imperfect, it strains at times, it’s loud, there is a slight sense of longing, but it is also full of action and hope. In other words it is a lot like us.
(American Boy / American Girl (Worker's Song) + Desperate Times-which a great song too)
You can download this song for free at Bryan's bandcamp page. Just be careful while listening to it when crossing the street


(now for the lots of unexpected words)
Age, a paycheck and maybe a little bit of necessary has jaded and worn me down. I think back to a faraway summer that I got the worst sunburn of my life out campaigning. I think about how I used to volunteer on Saturdays to causes that changed my life. Or I used write enough Letters to the Editor, that my small hometown newspaper finally just gave me my own Op/Ed column for a couple of months. I use to care more. I use to do more. I used to believe more. Now I write ridiculous posts about what I watch on TV and the biggest travesty of my day seems to be that the co-worker on the other side of the cubicle wall has horrible taste in music and refuses to wear ear phones.
I had started to write a woeful paragraph pining about how do I get that passion back? But the fact is I know better. I have probably driven this train out of the station before, but let’s go for another ride.  When I am completely honest with myself and lift any type of restriction (cost, location, others’ expectations, etc.), I can come with a pretty good list of my passions, my talents, places/institutions/people that I would love to work for or things to do. Making the list is the easy part; it is like writing your Christmas letter to Santa. But then comes making that list a reality. And unless you have a team of magical elves on your side, this means hard work, uncomfortable, frustrating hard work and bravery. Probably some crying too. But most importantly, putting down the list and actually getting up. Deciding that you indeed have time to volunteer or to take a class (and then go sign up). Deciding that you are finally going to ask for help when there are obstacles in your way that are just too heavy to move yourself (and then really asking for/getting help). Getting up earlier, saying no to too many obligations, surrounding yourself with supportive people and distancing yourself from those that aren't, exposing yourself to creativity, being kinder to others AND yourself.  In other words, deciding that you are going to be brave enough to give up the life (or things) you have for hope of the life you want. (And yes, I need to take my own advice. All the “you” in the above ramblings should actually be “I.”)
Anyone know some magical elves?

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