Category Archives: Appreciation

“Every Time the Sun Comes Up” by Sharon Van Etten

Really feeling this today. Boy. Many other posts I have read mark “Every Time the Sun Comes Up” by Sharon Van Etten as a song being about a flippant response to self-destruction. I hear that, but this song means more to me.

When I listen to it and read the lyrics, it reminds me so much of what it feels like to identify as a woman and outwardly appear as a woman but also what occurs when you act outside the societal norms and expectations of being a woman– being quiet and good and patient. Not asking for what you need. No bodily functions. Etc.

There is a constant sense of “being in trouble” if you act outside of this expectation or norm or, god forbid, ask for what you need or express how you feel earnestly. In fact, people often react even more angry towards women when women show (maybe even a rare) instances of assertiveness, boundary setting, or speaking up for yourself or even the facts. I am sadly speaking from experience on this one and have one too many stories where I felt threatened (physically and beyond) for standing up for myself or even saying “no”. However, it is more normal to be gaslit or talked back into being quiet in real life instances.

Obviously these gendered issues aren’t just a problem for women. All genders suffer when we are bound by these expectations. This line in particular though really resonated with me in terms of being a woman:

I washed your dishes, but I shit in your bathroom

Sharon Van Etten, “Every Time the Sun Comes Up”

I’ve included a live version above because if an artist can do their songs justice in a live setting, usually the experience is a bit more touching. I have also included the music video below because it’s a really charming music video featuring a man transforming himself into a sort of a Svengoolie type character (I guess; there may be some other cultural reference I am not picking up on; let me know if that is the case!).

“Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl” and “Love is Not Enough” by Wet

In 2013 and 2014, I was working in music and constantly being introduced to a slew of music– it was literally my job. Perhaps it was the timing, but many of my favorite performers from that time period are indie pop and indie rock bands: Dum Dum Girls, War Paint, and Wet.

Over time, Wet’s tracks from their self-tiled extended play and the tracks from their 2016 full length album Don’t You have stood the test of time. The track I posted above is called “Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl”, and the lyrics are as you’d expect: I’ve reached the end of the rope, and I don’t want to be your girl no more. This song will serve as your bff for the message you need to deliver.


On paper, the lyrics might sound aggressive or like they could placed into a fast pace pop anthem. However, Wet has a very relaxing sound with lots of synth and harmonies that feel like they might bring me to tears at times. If I didn’t know the lyrics, they almost sound holy at times.

I loved the single in 2014, but I remember thinking “How can they possibly replicate this brilliance into so many songs?”. Spoiler: they did.

“Love is Not Enough” is another release by Wet. I am not sure what your reaction will be, but this song touches me so deeply, I can only listen to it so often.

The lyrics have an intended meaning that I overlook because every time I hear this song, it reminds me of an article by Mark Manson titled “Love is Not Enough“. The song fits the sentiment of the article if you’ve ever been on the downward trending side of love not being enough.

However, “Love is Not Enough”, the song, also says “Don’t let them tell you, love is not enough.” Like many things in life, there are gray areas or situational differences. In what situation and when is love not enough for or is it enough for?

As a practical person in the business of compartmentalizing, I think, on the day-to-day, love is not enough. Maybe people who read this will think I am a total Debby Downer. Put away your pitchforks, boys. This day-to-day existence is way more special and honorable than what we think of as romantic love. If someone is willing to return to the nest and take part in your active aging, farting, burping, and other joys of being a biological lifeform with an overactive piece of slowly failing CPU, that’s truly a testament to a bond.

However, in the greater sense of life [the big moments], I do think we see and feel love is very much enough, and it is up to us on how we leverage that to set people free.

Clouds in My Coffee: Carly Simon, Warren Beatty, and Lessons Learned

Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” is a song that so many people (in the U.S.) at least are familiar with. It is another song that so eloquently says “eff right off,” and is a post-relationship review of how she fell victims to schemes and lies.

I posted the above version because I love the classic, no distractions song. I also really love the album cover because Carly Simon looks so beautiful and stylish. Eat your heart out, mouthy babes like Denise Richards.

There is a music video for “You’re So Vain” that is pretty…uh…interesting. The song takes a different turn than the version above, and I found it to be jarring, but perhaps you will feel differently.

Carly Simon has been mostly coy about who “You’re So Vain” is about. However, she has revealed more recently that the song is about three different men. Additionally, she revealed that the second verse is about Warren Beatty:

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Oh, you had me several years ago,
When I was still naive,
Well, you said that we made such a pretty pair,
And that you would never leave,
But you gave away the things you loved,
And one of them was me,
I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee,
Clouds in my coffee…

Damn you, Warren.

I have, personally,  taken issue with Warren Beatty ever since I was in 8th or 9th grade and first saw the film Splendor in The Grass, a 1961 starring Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty, in his first theater role. In the film, Warren Beatty plays a young man who essentially drives a young girl crazy after dumping her under his father’s orders and societal pressure.

I’ve put the preview below, but I recommend a watch of the movie. This film was a crutch for me in early break-ups where I felt a sense of shame. The screenplay won an Oscar and is directed by the famed and controversial Elia Kazan.

Warren Beatty is a known player off-screen, which is no crime in itself. I do cringe a bit when I read he refers to himself as a “nice guy that has never misled anyone.” That’s a red flag if I’ve ever seen one.

The on-screen and off-screen antics of Warren Beatty aside, I appreciate the parallels between the “wisening up” after a heartbreak that Carly Simon sings about and Natalie Wood plays out in both pieces of work.

And ending on a happier note…we all learn to move on from the pain– victim no more:

A Strong Woman’s Heart: “I Owe You Nothin'” by Emily Nenni

Just the other day, I posted praise for Phoebe Bridger’s gentle but blunt diss.

Today, I want to appreciate another woman who is a master at asking someone to take a hike: Emily Nenni, a rising honky tonk star that comes from Nashville.

Her Spotify bio is wonderful:

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Here is the first rack of hers that I heard. It’s called “I Owe You Nothin'”:

I love this song, and the instrumentals remind me of  David Allan Coe or Hank Williams Jr. However, I also almost always enjoy a good “I’m done,” song by a woman.

Ask me for something,
Well get in line,
I owe you nothin’,
You can get with the times.

She has another great song along the same lines called “Hell of a Woman”.

I drank some te-kill-ya,
They said it would heal you,
But I nearly lost my reigns,
And Lord how I cried.

I’m a hellllll of a woman. x2

I’ve been disrespected,
But they’ve been corrected,
It’s expensive to own how you feel,
Cause talk is cheap,
And that’s not me,
Maybe once in a while when the liquor’s flowin’ free.

Anywho, this wonderful gal came out with a new EP called Long Game today. If you are into some honky tonk or girl power tunes, I definitely recommend you check her out.

Looking Out a Rainy Window with Tindersticks

I am very lucky to have a great, safe space to be in during the pandemic isolation. One of my favorite places to sit is an enclosed porch. Today, I was sitting out there, and it started to storm something fierce, and then, as I have mentioned we call it in the South, the devil started beatin’ his wife.

No matter. We’ve had a few beautiful days here in Chicago, and the rain came in to wash it away for bit. But I hope it will also calm the many moods. My own. And others.

Last week, I stumbled upon a really great band through an unexpected source, the 2009-2013 HBO series “Eastbound & Down”. I love the series, but that opinion aside, the soundtrack is seriously good. The Tindersticks song “The Organist Entertains” was the song that stood out to me most:

I fell down a rabbit hole and have found Tindersticks to be even better than the taste above. Tindersticks in an English band that has been around since 1991. I think if you like Nick Cave, you will very much be into Tindersticks. It was very difficult to pick only a are a few of my favorites because they are all damn good:

“What Are You Fighting For?”

There is a future coming up behind,
And I can feel it but I don’t know where it’s coming from,
And I can hold it but I; I cannot see its face,
And time is out of my hand.

 

“Show Me Everything”

Bound together, separate,
Take these stones, build something,
Define the walls, decorate,
Our mouths on the glass, we believe we taste,
Everything we could have had.

“Mistakes”

I went flying around,
And I had my strings cut,
I wasn’t coming down.

I am not sure if Tindersticks is new to you, but whether they are or not, I hope you enjoy some of their songs. They have certainly touched my heart.

“Motion Sickness” by Phoebe Bridgers

I have made a Spotify playlist over the past few months called “Dignity”.  You can probably guess a few reasons someone might need to make themselves a physical manifestation of dignity, and one of those reasons is probably the reason for the creation of this playlist.

It is a playlist that has evolved over the past two months to the point where the tracks have evolved into other feelings (you can see the mood evolve as the numbers in the date column ascend). I still listen to it, and it comes in handy to process thoughts.

I like all of the songs on the playlist, as I did make the playlist. However one of the stand outs is this one that Tommy, who recently shared a guest post with me, recommended.

This track will sound super peaceful upon first listen, but it is a gentle veil over a burn. As Tommy informed me, this a diss track about the gross and abusive Ryan Adams.

I have emotional motion sickness,
Somebody roll the windows down,
There are no words in the English language,
I could scream to drown you out.
While the dignity returns, I spin this one as a reminder to keep it.

Isolated with “Delete Forever” by Grimes

Here is a comprehensive list of things I know about Grimes:

  1. Elon Musk
  2. Elon Musks’s baby
  3. She’s way beautiful and strange.
  4. This is the one song I know, and I like it:

This song is about the opioid epidemic. However, as it was released around when the Covids were gettin’ hot hot hot, I think this song will become or already is the theme of isolation.

For me, this song plays in the background when I think about all of the unfinished things waiting to be picked back up when there is a return to a new normal. These pages beg me to finish them, but I would rather shut that book and walk away as I used to be able to easily do.

“Whistle & Fish” by John Prine: Choosing Lightness in Time of Crisis

29 March 2020 EDITOR’S NOTE: Just heard today that John Prine is in critical condition with COVID-19, and I don’t even know what to say.


It seems that things, while still absurd, have gotten a bit too heavy lately. And, it is good to step away from the heaviness, no matter how serious it is.

Even legends like John Prine stepped away from heavier songs about social commentary to record songs like “Whistle & Fish”, a song that’s most simple message is about gratitude and not taking anything too seriously.

Fish and whistle, whistle and fish,
Eat everything that they put on your dish,
When we get through we’ll make a big wish,
That we never have to do this again, again? again?

When we’re used to going so fast, how do we lighten up?

During these times, I’ve appreciated the funny or simple things I notice on my runs more because, well, I ain’t got nothin’ but time. I’ve enjoyed “hanging out” with my South Side Hit Pen mates a lot. There are more home-cooked meals. More reading. More music. Less ruminating. It is a cliche, but it has made me want a different kind of life and have the time flesh out what kind of life that might be.

While the world seems like it might be coming apart, it is a quiet time and there is much to behold, and I am in awe of how quickly things that societal paragons and powerhouses crumble without us all to keep it afloat. The phrase “tiny but mighty” is more true now than ever. I am reveling in my smallness and appreciating the small delights.

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hope

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We cannot control much right now, and it is important to maintain a lightness of being and sense of humor in this time like our dear friend John Prine. Stay well, friends.