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Watch This: May It Last

78dec2d0ddd91b437ce46410b79e6f6cMy oh my, I don’t even know where to start with the Judd Apatow’s incredible documentary on The Avett Brothers, May It LastWhen it was first announced that the film would have a one night showing in theaters nationwide, prior to the release of the film on HBO in January, I was still living in Florida. The closest theater playing it was about two hours away, and it was a Tuesday. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to swing that, but the temptation was real. Well, I moved to Nashville Labor Day weekend, so it turned out that I was lucky enough to be about fifteen minutes from a theater playing it last week. From reading tons of posts of praise across social media, I knew I was in for something special, but I wasn’t prepared for how amazing it was. As a viewer in the audience, it felt like these people invited you into their homes (well, they did literally,) and gave such an intimate glimpse into their lives. The rawness and realness that is portrayed in the film is just something entirely unique. I have chills just trying to write about it. There are so many scenes in the film that made me love them even more than I did, prior to seeing it.

When Scott and Seth’s mom talks about how Scott didn’t trust her supervision skills of Seth when they were younger, and had an irrational fear of him being kidnapped and would insist on accompanying them anywhere. The boys talking about when Scott when off to college, they would record song ideas on one another’s voicemails, and mail cassette tapes back and forth. Finding out that Bob played for them in a parking lot, and basically did not have prior stand up bass experience! (Um, wow.) The emotional discussion of Hailey’s health journey after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and the way the whole crew rallied around one another. Them talking about how that was a real moment of figuring out faith, deciding what they believed. Seth and Jennifer talking about becoming parents. The discussion of divorce. The poignant moments following the recording of “No Hard Feelings” and the discussion of the elephant in the room. The emotion in that scene was so intense, that it almost seemed palpable. I almost felt uncomfortable as if we were seeing something we shouldn’t have permission to see because it was such a vulnerable conversation.
The scene where the boys are working through the lyrics to “Wish I Was” was  one of my most absolute favorite moments of the film. It was incredible to see how this stream of poetry just falls from their mouths in literal seconds. Their ability to bounce ideas off of one another and make it work so seamlessly is incredible. Following the transition from this scene, you could hear whispers throughout the theater. I have a feeling it was over the awe inspiring brilliance of the moment. I mean, Seth and Scott Avett are both masters of the craft but it was so intriguing to watch how obviously this is what they were born to do, music is the language that they speak.
There’s a time early on in the film where Scott is being interviewed as he drives. He discusses how growing up, and to this day, they all just thought that everyone would want to know their feelings on things, that they were supposed to share them, and that people wanted to hear them. That’s just the way they operated. (In that moment, I felt a sense of kindred spiritness. I mean, hey…that’s probably why I write this blog because I have an innate need to share my thoughts and feelings on the things I care about.)
One of the coolest parts of the film to me, was that person after person in one-on-one interviews, (so not overhearing someone speak it before them) touched on how special the relationship between Scott and Seth is, and that they don’t see brothers who have that connection like that often. Plus, the fact that they can work together the way that they do. This was extended to what an experience it is to work with the band, and how close and cohesive everyone is as a whole. Key terms that kept being repeated were the kindess, respect, and love shared across the board.
I think fans of The Avett Brothers have caught on to this because it’s obvious there’s something extremely special about this group of people. If you’ve ever seen them live, then you know they are literally opening their hearts up on that stage, and pouring it out. But the really cool thing is that now the rest of the world can see what makes this group so unique.
When watching May It Last, it’s not like “oh this will be a cool movie to see” it’s more like a journey or experience you are taking, or joining in. As soon as the film ended, I thought to myself “I can’t wait to see that again.” (Funny enough that’s the exact same reaction I have every time one of their concerts comes to a close. It’s why people travel across the country and see them play three nights in a row.) This film made me laugh and cry, and I can’t tell you how many times I caught myself grinning from ear to ear as I stared up at the screen (that was if my mouth wasn’t hanging open in awe over whatever new thing surprised me.)
PS: Encore dates have been added at certain theaters, so check out the list and see if there’s a showing near you!
(If you’re not convinced yet, you can check out the trailer below!)
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Listen to This: “Restless” by Cold War Kids

This weekend I won tickets to a concert at Ascend Ampitheater, where Joy Wave, Cold War Kids, and Young the Giant were playing. I’m never one to turn down live music, so of course I went. I listen to Cold War Kids fairly often, but for some reason the lyrics to “Restless” struck me differently hearing them live. Who knows if it’s becomes there’s a different raw vulnerability in someone’s voice live, sometimes, or a chilly September night, or the glow of the lights downtown, or what – but it was just one of those moments.

“You know it’s not that I don’t care
I don’t get jealous, I get free
Everything good comes back to me” 

I don’t know why hearing it in person like that, it just hit me in a different way. I really love the “I get free” line because isn’t that the most liberating feeling when you let something go, and everything just is what it is? I love that song, anyway so that’s why I’m sharing it with you today! If you don’t already listen to Cold War Kids, they’re a fun band.

 

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Read This: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Wow. So, it hasn’t been too long since I completely gushed over Jeff Zentner’s The Serpent King. Well, of course when I got my hands on a copy of Goodbye Days, I absolutely loved it as well. Like, seriously. One of those books where you procrastinate the important thing you should be doing (in my case – packing,) because you just cannot stop reading. In this gripping novel by Zentner, we meet teenager Blade living in Nashville, TN. The story opens with Blade attending yet another one of his best friend’s funerals. That enough is a shock, right? Well, unfortunately – it’s the third funeral. Blade’s best friends Mars, Blake, and Eli were killed in a car accident while he was at work. The accident occurred when Blade was sending a text message to the friend driving, Mars. The families of Blade’s friends each respond a bit differently to the tragedy. Some of them are kind, open, and forgiving (at least in trying to console the fault he’s placed on himself,) but others are not so comforting – casting off blame, guilt, and bitterness. Blade’s parents are loving and kind but he doesn’t have very open communication with them. He’s close with his older sister, Georgia but she’s about to head off to college, so he needs to confide in someone. In comes Jesmyn, who was Eli’s girlfriend. She moved to Nashville over the summer, and had met Eli at a music camp. It’s an absolutely awful circumstance to bring two people together, but Jesmyn and Blade both need someone to talk to, someone who can at least slightly get what they’re going through. (It doesn’t help that they go to school with Eli’s twin sister who definitely blames Blade for everything.) So, not only is Blade trying to navigate the pain and guilt of suddenly losing the three closest people in his life all at once – he has a giant black legal cloud hanging over his head. Mars dad decides to pursue a criminal investigation. You’d probably be having panic attacks to if you were him, right? Well, at least Georgia talks some sense into Blade (or forces some on him basically) by taking him to her therapist, so he is at least talking to a professional. In the meantime, Blade spends time with Blake’s grandmother. She is grieving immensely as well. It makes me tear up just thinking about her scenes in the book. Blake’s mom was in no position to have a child, so when Blake was younger his grandma basically rescued him from a bad situation. Blake and his Nana were a team, that’s for sure. Blade tried to help around the house in ways that Blake used to, as if the tasks could help alleviate some of his guilt but also because he truly cared for Nana as well. On one of these days, is when Blake’s Nana proposed the idea of a “goodbye day” where she and Blade would do all the things that she wished she could’ve done with Blake on a last day together. The emotional enormity of such a situation is overwhelming even to consider. It’s just as literally heart-wrenching as it sounds, but it’s still…a journey you want to go on with him. Zentner writes this story in such a beautiful way. You experience Blade’s grief with him, and his stumbles as he tries to navigate life, writer’s block, planning college essays even though he’s devastated that his best friends don’t have those futures to look forward to anymore. This book is absolutely heart-wrenching, but also beautiful, and complicated and doesn’t that all just describe how life is, anyway? It amazes me the stories Zentner has within him to share, and the way they navigate such huge life topics that feel like they can swallow you whole. When you finish reading though, you’re not left in a pit of despair, there’s hope and there’s growth, and there’s the progression of life because you’ve gotta keep going. One of those reminders you can’t hold everything in, and it shows how art and communication, and reaching out, and sometimes just being yourself in whatever emotion you’re feeling – right in that moment, is how you keep taking baby steps forward. This is a heavy story, but a wonderful one – I highly recommend you check it out!

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Listen to This: “Round Here Buzz”

Just a simple post today to share one of my favorite songs right now. It’s hard to narrow down my favorite Eric Church songs because he literally has dozens of amazing ones. I will say though, that “Round Here Buzz” is a song I just don’t get tired of, and I can keep it on repeat for a while. Every time it comes on the radio, it makes me think of the local bars in small towns I’ve spent time in over the years. You know, the places you know you’re bound to run into people you know because everyone hangs out at the same places? It makes me think about the passage of time. The coming and going, and the people you just don’t see anymore. The old flames, that die down when someone leaves. “Catch me a round here buzz cause you ain’t round here none, Keep putting ’em down here, nother round here, til my down goes up” He’s really good at making it seem easy to sing a relatable song. I think this is one of those that probably makes whoever listen to it, have a flashback to someone or some point of time in their lives. It’s a little melancholy, but it’s also addicting – not really a downer when you’re singing along really loud in the car, ya know? If you haven’t heard this one yet, give it a listen!

 

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Listen to This: “Praying” by Kesha

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.