First of all – Happy Friday everyone! Second of all – I apologize for the lack of frequent posts recently. Things have been a little crazy over here, but I have a few things in mind I’d like to share with you. One of them being Kesha’s “Praying.” The whole Rainbow album is hands down – fantastic. But there is something extremely special about this song in particular. “Praying” was released in July, and I’ve been meaning to blog about it for a bit. The first time I heard it, I got chills and started crying. I’ve yet to listen to it, without tears coming to my eyes.My top adjective to describe this song? Powerful. Kesha is a powerful force, as a human, with her art, with her strength. I keep thinking about the metaphor of a Phoenix rising from the ashes. But really…Here we have this woman who has been through the ringer, and a lot of it in the public eye. I read an interview the other day where she talked about her time in in-patient rehab for her eating disorder, and how her time with the piano when she worked on Rainbow, she kept singing it to herself to get her through. I know music has an entertainment value, but it’s also an extremely influential tool in spreading your message. It’s amazing that someone who could’ve let her first single in years be fueled with rage and hate – yet…I think this is a song of grace. This woman has found peace. Can you hear the honesty in her voice? Do you hear the vulnerability? Because I think it’s all there. But I also think this is someone who has been through hell (as the lyrics referenced,) and has come out on the other side…though all of our experiences shape us as people, she seems to have evolved and come out on top despite the ultimate attempts to drag her to to the bottom. “We both know all the truth I could tell” Kesha sings. Light has been shed on parts of her battle, but I’m sure there are countless details we will never know. I just really believe in the raw authenticity of this song. It’s like an anthem – an anthem for those who have struggled with all kinds of traumatic experiences. Abusive relationships, mental illness, assault, the crappy cards we get dealt in life sometimes. I just think the message here can really resonate with listeners, and I have so much respect for Kesha for using her voice, her unmistakable talent to create this. In a time when others create “revenge” songs. Here we have this woman speaking her truth, and she’s doing it with poise. This song in itself shows such an evolution from the artist who brought us “Tik Tok.” When I think of Kesha, and I think of her art, her strength, her courage, her ability to be so real I just feel so proud of her. That probably sounds weird coming from someone who doesn’t personally know her, but she’s shared enough of her story with us to know that she’s come out on the other side of a very dark time, and she is glowing.
There are certain songs that every time they pop up on my playlists on Spotify, I automatically go to “favorite” them with the little heart. Every time I’m reminded I’ve already favorited (a verb now), and done the same thing every time the song comes on. Amanda Shires “Harmless” is one of those songs. Just the opening notes are enough to capture my entire attention, and stop whatever I’m doing to be immersed in the song. With lines like “there was a sword in my drink, everything’s a sign, if you want it to be” or “and way out in the cheap seats, the stars started unblinking the ones that know anything won’t be revealing” it’s one of those songs that’s full packages – lyrics that are jam packed with emotion, relatability even, Shire’s voice is angelic and beautiful, and the song itself is a story to get lost in. Shires is married to Jason Isbell, so can you imagine the jam sessions that come out of the talented duo in that house?! Anyway, if you’re not familiar with her I’d say this is a great song to start with because it showcases her awe-inspiring abilities in such a perfect way. It’s a little bit folk, a little bit sad, but a whole lot of exactly what you should be checking out! “Harmless” is one of the tracks on her album My Piece of Land.
For those of you looking for book recommendations, I just finished The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner this weekend. It was on my list for a while, but I had to work myself up to this one. Astonishingly beautiful, even though I had to wait for the tears to pass to finish it. That being said, most definitely check it out!
Dillard, Travis, and Lydia are high school seniors in small town Forrestville, Tennessee. They’re kind of a misfit band of three musketeers in a school that doesn’t have too many open minded students. Lydia has a fashion blog (appropriately named Dollywood,) and has big dreams of leaving their town for the city. Lydia’s dad is a dentist, her mom is in real estate, and they live a comfortable life together. They’re supportive and caring parents, and they try to be inclusive of her friends when they can. Dillard shares a name with his father, and grandfather, who were both snake handlers in their church. Dillard’s father is in prison for child pornography, and it seems Dill is carrying his father’s shame on his own back. Even Dillard’s mom harbors hard feelings as if it’s her son’s fault for the hardships they’ve fallen on. Dillard doesn’t let himself dream big, feeling he has a responsibility to take care of his mother, but he has huge talent lurking below the surface and a calling to honor his musical ability. Travis is the quiet one of the bunch. Most of the time he’s lost in thought related to the fantasy world science fiction series he loves. He makes worlds of his own in his head, and imagines himself a knight to escape the brunt of his father’s drunken rages. Each of them has their own demons to escape, whether it’s fear of being found out that your reputation of “being yourself” isn’t so true, if you’re hiding the biggest part of your life, or the fear of succumbing to inherited darkness, or the fear of not being able to stand up for yourself in the way you most badly want to, be the defender of the people who matter most.
This is Zentner’s debut novel, and it is so astonishingly beautiful. The way he phrases such delicately crafted details is incredible. Zentner weaves a story of friendship, coming of age, love, faith, what it means to be a family, and taking risks because the outcome has to be better than being stagnant. I found it painful, but also refreshing how realistic he was about each character’s home life and background. Everyone has a story, even the people closest to you, you think you already know. There are battles everyone faces each day, to rise above circumstance, to outlast the struggles inside. I stayed up late into the night, tears steaming down my face, shoulders shaking as I cried for these kids and their stories. Each time I thought I was ready to continue, I’d turn the page and the next passage would make me start all over. That said, it’s totally worth the heart wrenching roller coaster it takes you on. The Serpent King flows the way life does with its ups and downs and times of uncertainty, but usually you come out alright on the other side. This is one of those stories that is so realistically balanced in truth, that I dare say it should be required reading – it enables you to get such a well rounded view from many perspectives. It’s a reminder to treasure the little things, and that stepping out on a limb is the real way to get the greatest reward. I knew this book was gonna be a shake up, the kind that turns you inside out a little with all of the feelings to process, but I’m so glad Ifinally read it. The book was so dang great, I can’t even be mad it felt like somebody reached into my chest and pulled my heart out. What are you waiting for? Dive in!
Every time Dori Freeman’s “You Say” comes on, I feel like my mind floats away to somewhere else. This song has a feeling to it that makes me want to sink into the covers on a rainy Sunday morning, or pour a hot cup of coffee and spend hours pounding away on the typewriter. There’s something bluesy and achy about it, where it makes you have that feeling in the pit of your stomach like something is missing from you – even if you didn’t feel that before the first chord. It’s Friday of a “short week” when Tuesday is a Monday, and this is one of those songs that quiets my mind a little in the chaos. If you haven’t heard it yet, enjoy below.
“Darling I can’t stop thinking of you
Like a dog in the hot night
I’m howling for you
And I know
It’ll leave me blue
But I’m still
In love with you”
Harry Styles long awaited self-titled solo album was released last week. I waited to listen until Saturday morning (after loving the new radio hit “Sign of the Times”) and I CANNOT STOP LISTENING. The whole album is so dang good. Don’t brush it off as a teeny bopper album, or you’ll be missing out. One of my favorite tracks on the album (too hard to choose – addicted to “Meet Me In the Hallway” “Sweet Creature” “Ever Since New York” “Two Ghosts” – okay all of them, I guess) is “From the Dining Table.” I think one of the endearing things about this album is that the lyrics are so relatable. Don’t hate me for this comparison, but the fist thing that came to mind was AM by the Arctic Monkeys. The songs are so emotional and heartfelt, but there are also songs you can move to, and they’re perfect for jamming out in the car. OK, honestly, they’re perfect for everything because I also listened while I was running this morning. “From the Dining Table” is the last track on the album, the imagery is so vivid, but also the longing is palpable. His vocals are smooth, and the music is original. This guy is talented, and hopefully his true artistry is recognized.