anything plain can be lovely

When the Barenaked Ladies (BNL) took the stage at the Genesee theater in Waukegan this week, tears inexplicably rolled down my cheeks in spite of the big smile I was wearing.

My on-going co-habitation of conflicting emotions has baffled Frank for years.

Watching X-Files with no lights on… dans la maison… 

The single One Week went big in 1998, the year I graduated from high school. The song piqued my interest with it’s quirky, fun, often non-sensical lyrics. It became a staple on local radio stations throughout that summer. I had two jobs that summer, one at a Hallmark store and one at an insurance company. I was living life in between childhood and adulthood with only a very vague sense of where I was headed. It was free and exhilarating – although maybe also scary, but hindsight changes things. The song fit my mood that summer: fast and light, maybe bordering on frantic.

The foam on the creek was like pop and ice cream…

In college, songs like Light Up My Room transported me away to a colorful world filled with imagery that illustrated my own juxtaposed emotions. College was a lot of struggling and joy and frustration and hope all hanging out together. As Ed Robertson admitted last night, most of his songs only use three chords. These simple songs with quirky lyrics and imagery were a perfect escape and salve for the emotional bumps and bruises from growing up in college.

What if I lost my direction…

Life after college became predictably busy. We dated, we were engaged, we married. We worked and worked and had some kids. Throughout all of it, I perk up when I hear a BNL song on the radio or on a long-forgotten playlist. The BNL Christmas album, in particular God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, has become one of my all-time favorite Christmas albums/Pandora stations at the holidays. BNL’s songs have been artfully woven throughout a tender period of my life where I was jettisoning my childhood and growing up. The music remains with me even as I find myself in a similarly transitional period of life, although with less tumult than high school, college and my early 20’s. It occurs to me that I am becoming the person my children will remember. These years may only represent their early, somewhat foggy memories, but their impressions of this time will endure.

This is where we used to live…

I wish I could take the girls back to our younger selves to show them, to make them understand how fast time moves and how quickly life changes. I could impress upon them the things I think I’ve learned. And yet again, I don’t wish that at all. Let them find out on their own wonder-filled adventure with their own soundtrack. There is more magic in that, I think.



One thought on “anything plain can be lovely

  1. On Sunday, I was in the yard and said I want the world to just stop spinning for two weeks so that I can have the time to take in all my blessings without the noise of living for a couple weeks. But it didn’t.

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