The Four Letter F-Word

Everyday can be a struggle when you feel that fear has a hold of you.  Fear to move on.  Fear to love.  Fear of the unknown.  When your a child, that fear doesn’t exist.  You trust without a thought.  You love with no regret.  You believe that you can do anything.  So, when does that fear become an emotion that grasps on so tight that it becomes difficult to move, to breath, or to hold on to reality?  Human nature makes us believe that everything is black or white, good or bad, but sometimes there is a grey area that gets forgotten about when people’s actions can be carried by the emotion of fear.  Fear can lead to regret, heartbreak, and resentment.  Why do we allow this emotion to control our actions?  Why can’t our mind go back to our childhood and block out that four letter word?

Society connects with stories about the underdog.  The person that was never meant to make it because of one thing or another.  Is anyone truly an underdog, or do we create these immortal men and women hoping to hold on to something that is better than our own lives?  The people that are important in our lives make us believe that the impossible is possible, but no matter how many people believe in you means nothing if you don’t believe in yourself.  When fear takes hold, you can feel stuck.  Almost like no matter which why you go, what action you make, you are going to fall through that crack in the floor and not be able to recover.

Over the years as I have watched the people around me change.  You notice their personalities change the most as they get older.  You let people go that maybe you should have held on to while others became more important in your life that started out as acquaintances.  You watch your parents, the people that literally could scare you with one look become these 50-something year old people of a totally relaxed mind-set.  The anger that you once saw when you would do something bad is no longer there.  Instead it has been replaced with a calm mind-set that it is now your life and your choices to make.  I have to say that I have been struggling with fear a lot lately.  Not fear of failure or fear of making mistakes, but fear of never being truly happy.  I’m not an emotionally driven person.  I do things based on thought and a lot of planning.  I don’t like to fly by the seat of pants in any situation and I have always thought fifty steps ahead of everyone else in the room if something doesn’t go according to plan.  I usually can tell someone how something is going to play out in any situation and 95% of time I am correct.  This is not me gloating, but more to show you that the people that may look like they are tied together in every way, feel the same fear that you do; they may just be less publicly emotional about it.  In Eminem’s song “Guts Over Fear” he raps:

“Do I really belong in this game? I pondered
I just wanna’ play my part, should I make waves or not?
So back and forth in my brain, the tug-o-war wages on
I don’t wanna’ seem ungrateful or disrespect the artform I was raised upon
But sometimes you gotta’ take a loss
And have people rub it in your face before you get made pissed off
Keep pluggin’, it’s your only outlet
And your only outfit so you know they’re gonna’ talk about it
Better find a way to counter it quick and make it, ah
Feel like I’ve already said this a kabillion eighty times
How many times can I say the same thing different ways that rhyme?
What I really wanna’ say is if there’s anyone else that can relate to my story
Bet ‘cha feel the same way I felt when I was in the same place you are
When I was afraid”

The best songs that we connect with are about emotions that we feel everyday and fear is just one of many, but I feel that it can be the strongest one of all to either make us fight or fall in this world.  Everything you want, desire, and need is on the other side of that fear; so let it go.  Sometimes the best you can do is take it one day at a time and get up each morning to Eminem’s “Not Afraid” because no matter how alone you feel, your not.

“And I just can’t keep living this way
So starting today, I’m breaking out of this cage
I’m standing up, I’ma face my demons
I’m manning up, I’ma hold my ground
I’ve had enough, now I’m so fed up
Time to put my life back together right now!”


14 Songs: 4 Minutes Can Change Everything

Three things you can never recover in life – the word after it is said, the moment after it is missed, and the time after it is gone.  We dwell on missed opportunities, on the choices we’ve made, and on the emotions we feel everyday like over-thinking our actions is going to change what we would have done.  Thomas Edison said, “Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose.”  Each minute that passes by is another minute lost when we could have been productive, could have been spending it with someone we love, could have been doing something to affect change.  Four minutes can feel like an eternity, or it can feel like the speed of light.  Many songs that we encounter in our lifetime are less than four minutes.  It can change our mood, it can make us recall a memory, or it can be a moment in time where we stop and question a thought, emotion, or an action.

“We watch the season pull up its own stakes
And catch the last weekend of the last week
Before the gold and the glimmer have been replaced,
Another sun soaked season fades away” –Stolen (Dashboard Confessional)

So what’s in a song that makes our brains turn upside down?  Is it the music?  The lyrics?  A combination of the two?  Why do we gravitate towards certain music genres and not others?  As a music lover I love listening to everything – from Rap to Bubblegum pop, but this post is more about the lyrics of the songs that I have chosen in this playlist.  They are all poem-like where there seems to be a deeper meaning behind each one.  Some are tied to movies, some can give you the strength to begin again the next day, and some make you feel like there is someone out there that is meant to be your other half.  Running makes you think a lot when you are not gasping for air trying to get to the next block.  During each song on my playlist I have learn to fall into the music instead of fighting against my own body and totally giving up; pushing to the next street.

“There’s a block on the edge of this town no one talks about
Where the train doesn’t stop and the kids know they’re not getting out
You live in the loop, the smokes on the stoop
Counting the coins you got
You work at a bar where all that you are is everything you’re not
Someone tell me when
I can start again
And rewrite this story
How long can I stay
Lost without a way to rewrite
I wish I could rewrite this story” –Rewrite This Story (Smash Cast)

Four minutes can change everything – meeting someone that connects with you beyond your looks, losing someone that meant everything to you, or closing your eyes and imagining that life can be a better place with just a little bit of understanding.  A four minute song can bring you closer to understand all the emotions that happen inside.  The ones that you are not ready to talk to about with anyone; not even the ones closest to.  These words can make you feel better even if it is just a good cry that you never knew you needed.

“No hesitation now she gets up and walks
She thinks of all the pain and pride that it cost
She empties all the tip jars and won’t get back what she lost” –Best Fake Smile (James Bay)

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is loving with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of other opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary” (Steve Jobs).  Emotions are a funny thing.  They make us act before truly thinking and sometimes that can be a good thing because it doesn’t allow us to over-think.  Fall into the music and let it carry your thought process even if it is for only four minutes.

Click here for the playlist!

It’s Time To Figure Me Out – The Summer Set’s Best New Song

When you’re a kid, your dreams are endless as you’re told by adults that you can do anything.  When you become an adult, that constant push to dream is squashed by the reality of bills, trying to keep up with the “it” people, and viewing your friends lives through social media as it seems more glamorous than your own.  The Summer Set will be releasing their first album in more than three years.  For the run of their fourth full-length album (Stories For Monday) they have released a few singles with one of them being a song called “Figure Me Out.”  It’s a song about reflection.  Coming to an epiphany moment where you stop listening to everyone around you and you can finally see things clearly.  Getting to that moment is difficult, because it means you have hit rock bottom.  Rock bottom is where your thoughts truly fall into place, and it can come in more forms – financial, death, family disfunction, or job frustration; like a boiling point about to blow.  One of the lines in the song says:

“Son don’t stop chasing great, and keep pounding the pavement
So, I’d much rather die tryin’ to make something sacred than live as another YouTube sensation.”

As an adult you hope that the choices you make are eventually going to lead you where you want to be.  For the last ten years I have moved from city to city, job to job looking for something, but have never truly found it.  At this point I don’t know if I even remember what I’m looking for in this world.  Security.  Family.  Friends.  To make a difference at something I love.  To Change someone’s world for the better.  Maybe it’s a little of all of the above, but getting to the point in your life where your imprint is worth more than fortune or fame is something that not everyone achieves.  Another person passed away in my graduating high school class and it got me thinking that nothing is worth your time unless you’re happy.  I mean truly happy.  Not the facade that everyone sees via social media.

“I’m too pop for the punk kids, but I’m too punk for the pop kids
I don’t know just where I fit in cause when I open my mouth I know nobody’s listenin’
In the words of profit who still can’t turn a profit
Cause I don’t fit in with the in crowd, but I’m too Hollywood to go back to my hometown
Cause they think that I’m famous when I know I’m a fraud
Who got too fucked up on the finer things to remember who he forgot
But I believe there’s more to life than all my problems maybe there’s still hope for me to start again…”

We get caught up in what people think.  Their judgements become how we live our lives.  How many likes did you get on Instagram or Facebook?  Does it really matter if some likes the picture you shared, or asked you what’s wrong from your sad status.  Of course it matters, because humans thrive on acceptance.  Should it matter?  I don’t know.  I know that if a friend from the past reached out I would be there for whatever they needed.  I know if someone I barely know wants to talk something out with an unbiased party I would listen.  I know that life hands us situations that we question if we can handle and we are surprised every time we get through it.

Mark Twain once said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”  So, why is it so difficult to find out that second most important question?  We dwell and fester on the past, the choices we make, but we never consider the fact that hindsight is 20/20.  That the other decision might not have been better.  Living in the now is important, but learning from the past can be a powerful tool.  Learn from yourself, learn from history, and learn from the people around you everyday.  Continue to do what is best for you and fight to make a difference in more than just your pocketbook or your next status update. And Brian Logan Dales know that this song has given me hope in one of the most frustrating moments in my life, and that it is time to figure me out.

Glenn Frey: A Tribute To The Band That Began My Music Obsession

When I was kid, my younger brother and I would be singing in the back seat of the car to whatever song was on the radio which usually consisted of Chicago, Queen, Styx, or the Eagles.  My brother and I were partial to the Eagles, more specifically the song “Heartache Tonight,” but we changed the words to “a party tonight.”  I remember my mother trying to correct us and you guessed it, we continued to ignore her and proceeded to sing the lyrics wrong.  Eagles, I sincerely apologize for our lack of consideration to your songwriting skills, but we felt we had a better version.  We were wrong.

Heartache Tonight was written by Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bob Seger, and J.D. Souther.  The track is included on the Eagles’s album “The Long Run” and released as a single in 1979.  It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in November of that same year and the single sold one million copies.  In 1980, the band received a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group Vocal for the song that gave us the lyrics “Everybody wants to take a little chance, Make it come out right.”  Heartache Tonight will hold a special place in my life as it was a song that helped bond my younger brother and I as two goofy kids in the car who instead of fighting for once, we actually agreed on something.

As I got older, I developed a deeper appreciation for songs like “Life In The Fast Lane” more specifically the guitar riff that made that song.  To this day, I will sing that infamous guitar riff like it is apart of the words anytime it is playing (Thank you Joe Walsh).  Finally, I became partially to the song “Get Over It.”  No it is not because it was the first new song that was released when the Eagles got back together in 1994, but because my dad is obsessed with it and loved to play it anytime we were whining about something as a kid.  When I was younger, him playing that song was more annoying then anything else, but as I got older I realized it was hilarious.  Don Henley and Glenn Frey whoever put together the line:

“Complain about the present and blame it on the past
I’d like to find your inner child and kick its little ass”

I pretty much want to recite this line to everyone I encounter in the general population.  So, Mr. Henley, know that you are not the only person who is frustrated about people blaming their circumstances and problems on everyone else instead of looking in the mirror.

The Eagles were the band that began my music obsession as I pretty much stole all the Eagles CDs (among others) my parents had and kept them in my room.  There, I proceeded to keep them in my stereo once in high school, and ultimately copied them to my hard drive and iTunes library so I could play songs like “Life In The Fast Line,” “Get Over It,” and “Hotel California” during my daily workouts.  Hearing about Glenn Frey’s passing was devastating as I felt a music superman had left this crazy world a little quieter without his guitar strumming, music writing, and passion.  The world is a little darker without you, but thank you for the memories.

Album Review: Marianas Trench – NEW Album – A Goonies Adventure

1600x1600srI’m sure you have heard about 5 Seconds of Summer’s new album, the new single by Ariana Grande, and are waiting patiently for the next Justin Bieber album.  During all of that, Marianas Trench has yet again slipped under the radar with their fourth studio album Astoria.  Josh Ramsay, Matt Webb, Mike Ayley, and Ian Casselman bring a mix of the decades with the deep baritone voices and harmonies of the 50s, the swinging beat of the 70s, and the modern sounds of today’s pop, combined with a little 80s soundboard mixing.

The album brings the listener through a 17-track storyline of an adventure of love, loss, and an end of a life chapter.  The storyline theme is roped in their last two albums, Masterpiece Theatre and Ever After.  In this album it seems to be an end of an era.  They combined elements like the shortened instrumental sections connecting the major tracks like in Masterpiece Theatre, and lyrics that reflect songs from Ever After.

Ramsay as always, is on point and in “Burning up” he is all over the vocal scale with the backing of 80s sounds like drum machines, heavy synthesizers, and a nice electric guitar hook.  The opening lyrics is full of metaphors that connect to the style of music that is heard throughout the album like “Been dead as a disco” or “Baby I’m new wave.”  He continues to tie in other musical references, but to the lyrics of his own music, like in “Dearly Departed” where he takes song titles from his last two albums and ties them into an entire verse as a simple ukulele is strummed in the back ground with a light vocal harmony:

“Every masterpiece I’d write again
You’ll always be my porcelain
I crossed my heart
But I stuttered too
So truth or dare
Was I good to you
Haven’t had enough of you all to myself
Still right beside you
In sickness and health
For ever after
You will be my home
And there’s no place like home”

He brings back the Jackson 5 style in “Shut Up and Kiss Me” through lyrical repetition and iconic opening instrumental of a piano key swipe like in Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”, which he mimics with strings.  The emotion in Ramsay’s voice is full of energy, youth, and honesty as a chorus of singers lend in harmonies inspired by the original soul brothers of the Jacksons.

The way a Marianas Trench album can go from the life of the party to a basic acappella sound in perfect harmonies is talent you don’t hear in most albums today.  Their lyrics make you think, question the past, question life, and question your choices that have brought you to your current life point.  The last song in the album “End of An Era” brings a close to a chapter with a huge orchestra sound as the band of guitars and rock n’ roll drums fall into place at the close of the album. Marianas Trench ends a chapter on saying goodbye to something or someone and as the listener, I have said goodbye to a chapter in my life by starting a new in Los Angeles which has been less than easy. Sometimes you need to take a leap and hope you land on your feet, especially when you feel like you are standing still. So in the words of Marianas Trench:

“I’m so afraid of trying something new
Cause every start begins
With saying goodbye to you
Our heart divides an unrequited view
But my heart is overdue”

Check out their new album here!