I heard two songs that mean a great deal to me today on the radio (I really have to talk my father into keeping the SiriusXM). One of them has been important to me for many years now, the other for just a little while (but when a song makes you cry when you’re listening to the itunes clip, that’s a pretty good sign it matters).
I love a lot of songs, that should be obvious by now. But some matter to me because I can hear myself in them. I don’t mean it’s something I can sing them well (because I can’t), but that I identify with the song for some reason. I feel like I’m the person in the song, or that it is being sung to me. (Tip: Always do what the voices in your head tell you to do. Unless it involves an axe. Then just say no.) Both songs contain good advice, stuff I probably ought to think about more often.
Jackson Browne’s “Hold on Hold Out” is a rambling 8 minute epic from the end of Hold Out. It’s a love song, sort of. It’s about sticking to your beliefs and dreams in the face of opposition. I’m what many people would consider a loser: middle-aged, unemployed, unmarried, childless. Sometimes, I even throw myself a little pity party about all that I haven’t accomplished. But see, the thing is, most of the time I don’t feel like a loser. I’ve chosen not to measure myself by the traditional markers of success. Although I’d like to change the unemployed thing, everything else depends on how you view it (just like Obi Wan Kenobi said). Age is just a number. I have my friends’ kids to dote on (my niece & nephew are adults now, even if I do still call both of them “baby”). I don’t really want to be in a relationship with anyone. I have my music and family and friends. I have a place to live and food to eat, and I’m healthy; that’s a lot more than a lot of people have. I get to go to Disneyland. Things are pretty good. When I need a little burst of confidence, “Hold on Hold Out” is one of the songs I turn to.
See, I like to think of myself as a Hold Out. Holding out until I feel like the pieces are in place, finding strength in knowing what it is I really want. “They say you’ll fall in no time at all, but you know they’re wrong. You’ve known it all along.” I believe things happen for a reason. I’m in charge of my life, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t someone pointing the way once in a while. And I know that however the world views me, I’m worthwhile. That’s what “Hold on Hold Out” is about.
Snow Patrol is new to me. I saw them performing “New York” from their new album, Fallen Empires, a few weeks ago. So I looked them up and listened to the samples on itunes one night. I downloaded it because it was too late to go somewhere they sold CDs and buy it, and Amazon would take too long. The song that convinced me is track four, “This Isn’t Everything You Are.” This is the song you listen to when the pity party has gone on a little too long. It starts rather pessimistically, a guy trying to comfort a troubled friend, although being told “don’t keel over now” doesn’t seem particularly encouraging. It feels a little like rock bottom. “And in one little moment it all implodes. This isn’t everything you are.” Whatever is holding you back or troubling you, it doesn’t define you. You are strong enough to come through it. I am strong enough. “Breathe deeply in the silence, no sudden moves. This isn’t everything you are.” I am not alone. “Just take the hand that’s offered, and hold on tight. This isn’t everything you are.” I can get through it. “There’s joy out there somewhere, I know there is. This isn’t everything you are.”
I felt pretty emotional just sitting in the car today. If “Watching the Wheels” had come on, I think I would’ve burst into tears. But I also feel good. Confident. I can keep holding on, because this isn’t everything I am.