Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Transition: There's No Place Like America Today

The last time I posted was May of 2013. A lot has happened in nine months. I've added a second child, I left the Navy after nine years of service (as I mentioned before, it's the only real job I've ever had), I searched for and eventually found a job, and I moved the whole family across the country. As I'm writing this, our household goods are in storage and we're all staying in a hotel waiting to move into a new house, and I'm waiting to start my first civilian job. So much has changed I can't really process it all.

All of that is to say two things: First, I haven't stopped listening to new music. I've only heard about 40 entries in the last nine months, but I'm still taking notes (and trying to keep up on Twitter). And next, I am hoping to get back to this site and write more often. I actually have a couple of entries banked that I wrote soon after my daughter was born that I never got around to posting. I'll be posting those soon, as well as a conclusion to my well over a year-old Grunge Project.

Looking back on everything that's happened and browsing the book, Curtis Mayfield's There's No Place Like America Today jumped out as the right fit for this post.

Artist: Curtis Mayfield
Album: There's No Place Like America Today
Recording #557

Anyone who has ever looked for a job or taken care of a newborn in the middle of the night can attest to the stress of both; I was doing them at the same time. Moving 1000 miles with two kids under the age of four was no picnic either. As my buddy, another soon to be veteran, has said many times over the last few months, "transition sucks." But that's only half of the story. I'm super excited about the new job. I'm relieved to be done with the uncertainty of the military. I'm overwhelmed by the joy my children bring me every day.

I think the duality of those feelings of joy and stress have been weighing on me for months. I had one job offer that cost me (and my wife) a week of sleep. And we were already getting just a few hours a night. I was so happy to have an offer, and so many things about it were great, but the stress of the uncertainty in the details of this particular job, as well as the travel involved, was killing me.

Mayfield's album is full of duality as well: the album cover features a billboard boasting the title behind a line of flood victims. Some days I'm in agreement with that irony, and other days I believe in the words as they're written. If you read the lyrics to this album, it's a powerful and depressing statement on inequality and violence, but the songs are delivered so sweetly that it's a pleasure to listen to. Songs like "Hard Times" (which I first heard covered by Baby Huey) and "Billy Jack" are clearly heavy-hitters, and on my down days they feel right. On the other hand, "When Seasons Change" and "Jesus" sound uplifting, even when the words don't match the music.

If you need a starting point for soul, you can't beat this (and if you liked Baby Huey, this is a necessity). If you're going through a change, this should be on heavy rotation.

Stream the album here on Spotify.
Read Tom Moon's entry here.

No comments:

Post a Comment