My friend Jared has made me a number of fantastic mixed CDs. This morning on a dreary drive to work, I popped one in to make the ride a bit cheerier. One of my favorites, that I’d never heard before until he introduced me is AJ Rafael’s “We Could Happen.” It’s vulnerable and honest, but it has a happy beat. Something about it reminds me of the butterflies of anticipation when you’re entering new territory with someone you like. It really encapsulates that whole wave of hesitation and uncertainty before you take the jump. It’s a unique tune, and it’s a little sappy, but I like sappy. If you haven’t heard it yet, give it a listen:
It probably comes as no surprise that one of my favorite tracks on Miranda Lambert’s new album The Weight of These Wings is “Tin Man.” I mean how can you listen to this song, and not feel anything? I’m not really sure. On Sunday, she preformed it live on the ACM’s. Acoustic. Raw. I think there’s something beautiful and admirable about someone revealing their heart for anyone to see. It’s a real song, and it’s vulnerable, and I think that’s wonderful. The world needs more of that. I believe it’s a brave thing to do, even if it’s scary, to put your emotions out there like that. You never really know how that situation will transpire, but it’s better than hiding away. And isn’t that kind of how love works, anyway? It’s all a risk, but what is life without taking those chances? Her performance gave me goosebumps, but the song has that effect anyway. I’m not sure I’ve listened to it one time without getting tears in my eyes yet. (*Sap alert* I know, but it’s so good.) It had been a few years since her last one, and this much anticipated album was well worth the weight. I believe it when they say she brought her heart to the table, ready to pour it out into these songs.
“Hey there Mr. Tin Man
You don’t know how lucky you are
You shouldn’t spend your whole life wish’
For something bound to fall apart
Every time you’re feeling empty
Better thank your lucky stars
If you ever felt one breaking
You’d never want a heart
Hey there Mr. Tin Man
You don’t know how lucky you are
I’ve been on the road that you’re on
It didn’t get me very far
You ain’t missing nothing
Cause love is so damn hard
Take it from me darling
You don’t want a heart
Hey there Mr. Tin Man
I’m glad we talked this out
You can take mine if you want it
It’s in pieces now
By the way there Mr. Tin Man
If you don’t mind the scars
You give me your armor
And you can have my heart”
If you haven’t heard it yet:
Driving home from work on Monday, I heard this song on the radio, and I was immediately intrigued. The lyrics are so vulnerable, and raw. Musically it’s beautiful, and of course I’m a sucker for an accent (no shame in admitting that.) I sent the song to a friend that night, and they sent me a YouTube video from the X-Factor in which James Arthur won in 2012. I can’t believe I’m just hearing him now, and I’ve missed out on a few years of getting to hear such a great voice. Upon a Google search you can see that there was much controversy surrounding his lyrics and musical choices in the years following the X-Factor win, but hopefully this fabulous single from his album Back From the Edge shows a different direction he’s taking with his music. I mean, I’m well aware I’m a sap and I’m all for a beautiful declaration of love, but how can you not melt at these words?
You made me feel as though I was enough
We danced the night away, we drank too much
I held your hair back when
You were throwing up
For a minute, I was stone-cold sober
I pulled you closer to my chest
And you asked me to stay over
I said, I already told ya
I think that you should get some rest
I know Sutter Keely. At least that’s how I felt reading Tim Tharp‘s novel, The Spectacular Now. Three months ago I didn’t even know The Spectacular Now was a book, but after reading a Television Without Pity article highlighting some of well-received films at Sundance, I found out The Spectacular Now was based on a book. A YA book in fact, that was a National Book Award Finalist! I was obviously immediately intrigued when the article claimed Perks as “so 2012,” coming of age stories basically scream my name. Plus guess who’s starring? Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller! (And according to IMDB Kyle Chandler is in this cast, too?!) Woodley’s range of roles is impressive to me, and ever since I went to see Sherlock Holmes last year and Teller was in line in front of me at the concession stand I’ve been curious about his career. We’re from the same county, and I was unaware at the time, but the friend I was with filled me. He’s already acted in several different film roles, Rabbit Hole, Footloose, Project X and so the combination of the cast and the basic premise of the story had me terribly intrigued by this book.
I had a literature teacher in college once who told us that most writers are attempting to tell the same story over and over until they finally get it right. Sometimes, when I’m reading I think that I’m looking for the characters or the story that finally explains things I’ve experienced, right. (Of course you’re probably thinking why don’t I just write the story myself? I know, I know.) Every once in a while I come across a piece of work where I feel like the creator has crawled into my life. I wasn’t expecting this with The Spectacular Now but there, sprawled across the pages was a story closely resembling one I knew.
Sutter Keely. He’s a party animal. He’s witty, he’s spontaneous, he’s intelligent but he doesn’t really apply himself in school. In math class, he’s watching a video game in his head so obviously his imagination is on spot but his attention span is short-lived. Sutter makes a good time wherever he goes. He’s all about the music (old crooners like Dean Martin, actually) and driving with the windows down destination unknown. Hiccup? He’s rarely without a cup of whiskey and 7-Up. This doesn’t always end well and his drunken escapades lead him to meet some interesting people along the way. Sutter has a family, they definitely love and care for him but he’s not connected to them, they rarely know what’s going on his head and he doesn’t often share. Sutter will be the first to tell you that he’s not interested in long-range plans, and he’s not particularly concerned about his future. Sure he’s completely scattered, and his ambitions could use some strengthening, but Sutter Keely has a really good heart. He most often chooses the path of kindness, even if it won’t benefit him when faced with a decision.
I know I’m being tremendously vague here, but I want you to meet these characters on your own without all of my opinions influencing the read. I’m not sure how I went so long without reading it, or even hearing about it but I HIGHLY recommend this one. The narrative was refreshing. Even though I read books with the voice of a teenage male fairly often, The Spectacular Now felt different. It felt seriously authentic, vulnerable, real. (Also, I’ll clue you in that for as loveable and maybe even endearing Suter can be, primarily because of his charm – he can just as easily be incredibly frustrating and make you want to shake his shoulders a little.) This is the first Tim Tharp book I’ve read, but I enjoyed it and will most likely read more of his work. He had me laughing, and my heart twisting. I wanted to go for a ride with Sutter, (preferably when he’s not under the influence.) I wanted to chat with him about life, and really I wanted to give him a hug. I’ve tweeted several times trying to find others who’ve read this story, and apparently none of my friends have read it yet. So, now I’m turning to you: have you already been on the journey with Sutter in The Spectacular Now? Are you anticipating the film? (I can’t wait to see the transition from page to screen!) If you haven’t read it yet, but you end up doing so after reading this post come back and share your thoughts!