A Silent Tribute...

I learned yesterday that The Weakerthans, an incredible band I've loved for nearly 15 years, has called it quits. This post is a tribute to them, to the thousands of sing-a-longs I've enjoyed from their creations, and to the moments in my life for which they have been the soundtrack.

The first song that grabbed me was "Pamphleteer." It was my freshman year of college at the University of Missouri. It wasn't my favorite season of life, to say the least. It was a hard transition for me. I felt alone. I felt invisible. And I heard this song that described my exact feelings with such a perfect metaphor:

I'm standing on this corner.
Can't get their attention.
Facing rush hour faces turned around.
I clutch my stack of paper, press one to a chest,
then watch it swoop and stutter to the ground.
I'm weary with right-angles, abbreviated daylight,
and waiting for a winter to be done.
Why do I still see you in every mirrored window,
in all that I could never overcome?
How I don't know what I should do with my hands when I talk to you.
How you don't know where you should look, so you look at my hands.
How movements rise and then dissolve, melted by our shallow breath.
How causes dance away from me.
I am your pamphleteer.
I walk this room in time to the beat of the Gestetner,
contemplate my next communique.
The rhetoric and treason of saying that I'll miss you.
Of saying "Hey, well maybe you should stay."
Sing "Oh what force on earth could be weaker than the feeble strength of one
like me remembering the way it could have been."
Help me with this barricade.
No surrender. No defeat.
A spectre's haunting Albert Street.
I am your pamphleteer.

Listening to this song still takes me back to the cold mornings walking from my dorm, across a campus full of life and movement, to classrooms full of people I wanted to know... people I wanted to connect with... people who didn't seem to see me at all. 

But, thankfully, it was only a season. I moved beyond the struggle. I found myself. I found love. I started building a life. 

A little over a year after I married my wonderful husband, Kyle, he received a phone call from his dad in the middle of the night. It was confusing. It was serious. His mom had suffered a heart attack and was in ICU on a ventilator. We drove several hours with his brother and sister-in-law to be at the hospital. To pray, to hope, to wait as the outcomes would be revealed. She was gone.

I remember driving the four of us home as The Weakerthans' "Night Windows" was played on my favorite satellite radio station:

In the stick-count for the song of knowing you're gone
Glancing up at where you lived when you lived here,
I see you suddenly alive and nearly smiling.
Stop and hold my breath and watch the way you used to be.

The full moon makes our faces shine like over-ironed polyester,
Then disappears behind the clouds
And leaves me under empty rows of night windows.

We could walk to where these streets get pulled together.
Blinking, lined with gravel, shoulders squared towards an end.
Where the radio resounds from doppling traffic.
Where the power lines steal s's from the hourly news.

De-pluralize our casualties, drown the Generals out in static.
We'd turn and watch our city sprawl and send us signals in the glow
Of night windows

But you're not coming home again, and I won't ever get to say,
"Remember how... I'm sorry that... I miss the way... Could we..."
"Remember how... I'm sorry that... I miss the way... Could we..."

These songs, like so many others that we all can use to point to unique visions and feelings, are forever embedded as soundtracks to moments and seasons. It's the beauty and magic of music. It's a time machine. And in that way, it's permanent. Even if the band is no more.

Many sincere thanks to The Weakerthans for all of their incredible sounds and thoughtful lyrics that will always be a part of me.