Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best Music of 2011: Part 6

Previously: Best Music of 2011, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.

"So now I am older,

than my mother and father,
when they had their daughter.
Now what does that say about me?"

When I heard those opening lines to "Montezuma," the first track on Fleet Foxes' Helplessness Blues, I instantly knew it would be #1 album of 2011.

OK, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but let me explain.

Growing up, I always thought my parents were old, at least in comparison to other kids' folks. And, of course, they were, relatively speaking. But, my dad was 36 and my mom 32 when my older sister was born. Obviously, they were a little older when they brought me into the world, and now I'm even a few years older than my father was when I was born.

But, times have changed, right? Well, yes and no. I certainly know I'm not the oldest new dad there is, but among my close high school friends who have children, I don't think any of them had one in their 40s.

My point, if there really is one, is when I can relate to the music I'm hearing—even if it is just my own interpretation of something that was intended to mean something completely different—it makes for a greater listening experience. And, while the quality of the music itself is more important, finding meaning in the lyrics is really what makes it transcendental. And that's what this album is for me.

But, it's the album's title track—the one that inspired my Yes comparison when I wrote about it earlier this year—that really seals the deal.

From the existential crisis of its opening verse...

"I was raised up believing I was somehow unique,
like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes,
unique in each way you can see.

And now after some thinking, I'd say I'd rather be,
a functioning cog in some great machinery
serving something beyond me." the resolution in the refrain...

"If I had an orchard I'd work til I'm raw.
If I had an orchard I'd work til I'm sore.
And you would wait tables and soon run the store."

...and, finally it's idyllic closing line:

"Someday I'll be like the man on the screen."

The theme of the song reminds me that I worked hard this year: taking care of a new home (particularly when you're far from the handiest guy on the planet), preparing for the arrival of a new baby, looking after a pregnant wife who was instructed by her doctor to take it easy, and finally welcoming our son into this world, all the while working 40 hours a week at my day job and managing to find just enough free time to indulge my writing hobby.

That's quite a lot that I had on my plate. All of these things were (are) totally worth it, of course, but they also made me feel a little overwhelmed at times, and the concept of making ends meet by being the caretaker of an orchard just seemed so much simpler to me.

But, in reality, when you reduce that meaning to its simplest element—the purpose of providing for one's family—it places priorities in their proper perspective.

So, on the occasion of this final day of the year, I want to thank everyone who reads this blog regularly—as well as those who do so occasionally—for paying attention to what I've had to say this year. Happy New Year to all and the best of luck in 2012.


  1. I was forty when my daughter was born. Nearly all the parents we see during school events could be my children. So I can definitely relate.

    Your writing, my friend, flows so nicely that it's always a pleasure to read.

    All the best in 2012

  2. Thanks William. That means a lot to me, especially coming from a great writer such as yourself.

    A happy 2012 to you as well.