Monday, December 31, 2012

Year in Review: Favorite Albums of 2012

On this the very last day of 2012 I feel compelled to do an end of the year list. However, I feel overwhelmed and inadequate to really review too many things. Have I read any books this year? Seen any movies? Which pie recipe really was my favorite? The answer to that last one is easy: ALL OF THEM.  But music, oh sweet music, that is one bee in my bonnet I feel I can comment on. I always have too many words, and soapboxes,  for music.

There was a lot of good music released this year. A lot. Every song, album, and concert I have wrote about over the last 365 days has meant something to me. I am thankful for each and every one of them.  But there are two albums that carry an extra special place in my heart. Like most good music, they found me when I needed them the most.  I've talked about both this albums, and bands before, many times before, and maybe at the risk of falling off the cliff of obnoxious fan girl rambles, I am talking about them again. So these little reviews may not be normal critiques of the albums, but more like why they left little imprints on my life and times. 

Stars and Satellites by Trampled by Turtles
This album was released in April of this year, right smack in the middle of my dad's illness. And that illness was quick and cruel, taking my dad from first symptoms to last breath in about 60 days. When the doctors, with heavy hearts, told us there was nothing else they could do, we took my dad home and set up a bed for him in our music room. There is something deeply comforting to me knowing that my dad was surround by the family piano and a couple hundred vinyl records for his last little bit of time on earth.  I was so scared that something would happen to him in the middle of the night, and he would be alone, that I decided to stay up and sit with him during the night. More times than not, he didn't sleep, so I would stay up and talk to him. Sometimes I would tell him jokes, or read out of some of favorite books, but a lot times it was me saying things that I should of said so many years before. Asking for forgiveness for all the worry that  I caused my parents throughout the years, telling him how much I loved him, that he was indeed that best dad anyone could ask for, and trying to reassure, the both of us, that I would be OK after all this. Those were some of the hardest nights of my entire life, but also some of the most meaningful. 

And then when the morning came, my mom would come downstairs and I would go upstairs to sleep, or try to sleep for a couple of hours. Many of you have cared for a terminally ill loved ones and know just how exhausting it is; physically, emotionally, spiritually.  And even though I was so, so tired crawling into the bed each day, I had a hard time falling asleep. I couldn't believe all this was happening. This couldn't be happening.  Stars and Satellites became my go to balm to calm my troubled heart. I would play it on  my iPod and headphones and bury myself under the covers.  I found that I could focus on the  music, and it would slow my racing mind and ease me into rest. And it did every day up until and maybe a few days after the hardest day when I said my good-bye to my dad. So even though the circumstances of why this album has a special place for me this year are sad,  it still brings me an ocean wave of peace whenever I listen to it. Maybe that is why I have become pretty loyal about see them whenever they tour through these here parts, even when they try to usher in the apocalypse with storms of destruction. Except when they come to Baltimore, there are just some lines I do not cross. 

American Boy/American Girl by Bryan McPherson
I also listened to ABAG a lot during those tough Spring months, especially the song Acid Rain with it's refrain of "Give it time, give it time,  give it time . . ." But there is another song off this fantastic album, a little tune called Long Lost American,  that has caught hold of my spirit these last couple of months.  In September, I finally made the decision that  after my job ends at the end of this year (this Wednesday to be exact. Whoa.) I am going to take a break and move back to the Midwest. Needless to say, this decision has become quite controversial. Several well meaning people have literally sat me down to try to talk me out of this. I've been told I am being selfish,  I am being stupid, especially in this economy, I am giving up my career for some Eat, Pray, Love, hippy dippy too early for a mid-life crisis. And maybe a little bit of that is true.  I have worked hard these last four years, I have a good reputation in my field, and not to pat myself too much on the back, but I am good at what I do. I am pretty sure I could of had another job lined up here in Washington if I wanted. But I am tired, I am broken.  I can't stay here. I need to leave.  I need to find myself again, my long lost self.  Maybe that is selfish. Maybe that is some first world dream. But I don't care about all the maybes. 

Somehow the American Dream has become about things. Houses, and cars and fancy shoes and success that can be measured by bank accounts and paragraphs in holiday letters. And yes, there is some merit in providing for yourself and living in comfortable means. But that is not all life is about (I hope). All this trying to keep up with an image, trying to keep up with everyone else has not fulfilled me, but has life me a little empty inside.  And I want to believe that America and the so called American Dream didn't start out being about things, it started out as, it still is about, becoming. Adventurous and exploring, and defining ourselves before anyone could tack a label on us, choosing for ourselves what we will become. I want to get back to that. I want to finally allow myself to grieve for my father and not worry about being on time for meetings or wearing the right suit, or going to social engagements that I don't care about. I want to tend to unseen wounds. And thankfully, my skills can be used outside the beltway, so I have no doubt I can still find means to eat and shelter myself. I have thought and pondered long about this decision, my decision to follow the path of my becoming. I am at peace with it. And this song, finally back to the song, has helped me come to this peace. It speaks of roaming, and new roads, and dreams, and not wasting life. And if there is anything I have learned this year, it is life is too precious to be wasted in unhappiness. In a lot less words, this song has become my battle cry. 

I walk in a funny way
And I talk much the same
I was lost when I came across the USA
With words that I say
And dreams I dream all day
A voice that I'll raise
A choice to go my way

1 comment :

  1. SO SO GLAD you shared this song by Bryan McPherson. Go forth mighty and courageous Katie, seize 2013!