22 Albums That Changed My Life (Part 3)

So we went through the albums that shaped my teenage and early adulthood years — now here come the stuff that shaped me as a grown-up.  Note that these span longer years than the earlier eras, because as an adult my palate has already been formed and it became harder to …

Song Reflections: Tool “Vicarious”

This song is quite possibly the meanest song I like.  I’m hesitant to admit that I relate to this song, but I do.  I have that selfish voice in my head, the one that watches someone in suffering and says “better you than me.”  And I really don’t agree, don’t want to agree with that bit about the world being a hostile, impersonal place — but I’d be lying if I didn’t wonder about that, too.

So it’s about accepting an inconvenient, against-my-value truth. But at the same time, there is a sense of relief in doing so.  I don’t have to lie, pretend or manipulate things to be what they are not.  And the question I come back to is, even if I have these against-our-values sentiments in me, am I still allowed to exist?  To be loved and accepted?

This song is lyrically very hard, but yet music is so majestic, propelling and heroic — that the ugly truths I have to accept in the lyrics, I find some sort of affirmation through the music.  As if coming to face-to-face with these truths has an element of courage.  I do fall way short of perfection or some sort of moral high ground, but I do make genuine efforts to become a better version of myself.  That’s an effort where I both try to improve my thoughts and actions and come to peace with accepting what I am — settling somewhere middle in-between.  And this song provides me with a sense of resolve to keep making that effort — to face hard truths, and to keep on living with it.

Fair to Midland: Fables From a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times is True

I’ve been thinking about these guys a lot since they’re coming to St. Paul this Thursday (March 24, 2011).  Ever-cryptic Fair to Midland is a fascinating and talented alternative metal band from Texas, one of the best of young indie acts I’ve heard. What makes them so good? Well, to …

Tool “Jambi” from 10,000 Days

Life is a pursuit.  We chase after things all our life, digging deeper and deeper. But if you’re gonna keep digging for your whole life, you better pick a treasure buried deeply enough.  A shallow well dries up faster, it seems.  The easier it is to get to it, the …

Tool “The Grudge” from Lateralus

Time heals many things, but grudge isn’t one of them. Unexpressed grudge festers inside, shimmering and stirring, rotting into something deeper, darker and denser. If you are hosting venom inside, it will not stop being itself just by being stored.  You have to get it out. Wear the grudge like …