There’s a reason why lyrics hit you so hard. They connect in a moment that feels personally yours and convey situations or emotions better than you could have imagined it. They are often the words of poets. They are intimate, yet broad in a unique way that gather people in an experience with words. Somewhere else someone is connecting to a song just like you. Perhaps differently, yet still sincerely. They are emotional tents of meaning with plenty of room to gather underneath for shelter.
That’s the trouble I find with this week’s ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues‘ from Against Me!.
For those unfamiliar, lead singer Tom Gabel came out as transgender in 2012 and began the process of being a woman. She is now Laura Jane Grace. She is still one hell of a performer as evidenced by a show I went to last year. She is still one hell of a writer as evidenced by ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues‘. The record is deeply personal and no doubt was bled onto the page. It’s the record she had to write after the experiences she has had.
The problem lies though in the applicability of those experiences to myself. It’s a selfish notion, but it’s a reality.
For five albums Grace and Against Me! have danced around the unfathomable situation she found herself in. There were words of rising up, of longing, of pain, but now with those obstacles no longer behind the curtain of anatomy the dance is over. ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues‘ is very often a very literal album about the struggles of a Transexual. I really wouldn’t expect anything different from a raw and piercing talent like Grace, but it doesn’t quite hit as hard because I struggle to put myself in it.
Music is different from movies and television in that way. At least the way I enjoy it.
All that being said, the band is still as tight and stereo-shaking as ever. Worth a listen. I hope it connects with you in some way.
Elsewhere, very quietly A Great Big World has put out the first really great pop album of 2014. And it’s from the theater kids who wore their ‘Wicked’ shirts to gym class.
It’s tough not to see the lights of the stage as you listen to ‘Is There Anybody Out There‘. It plays like an Original Cast Recording of some great Broadway show that I want to see. It’s thematic with dreams of rock n’ roll, of love, and of letting go of that love. My guess it that he does that right before intermission.
It’s easy to imagine the posed fist in the air at the end of album open ‘Rockstar‘, or the slow fade of the spotlight as the last piano key sustains and dissolves on ‘Say Something‘
There are moments where they veer a little too deep into hokey territory. I love the positive message of ‘Everyone Is Gay‘ but lines like “if you’re straight, then that’s great, you help procreate, and make gay little babies for the whole human race” distract from what could be an anthem.
After it all A Great Big World have put together a collection of beautiful, often aching songs that all fit within a seamless stream. Listen to this album now.
The boys from A Great Big World haven’t quite learned to turn a phrase in the manner that Laura Jane Grace has so many times before, but they connect on a special level.
I guess it’s like Robert Frost said.
“Market Street and JFK Boulevard came together, and there wasn’t a lot of people on Market so I took that one, and that’s made all the difference”