Rapping on My Heartstrings

Have you ever bought an album that caught you off guard with its sheer awesomeness? I had this experience recently. A few weeks ago I bought The Heist by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. I had heard the three singles on the radio and loved them all so it seemed like a no-brainer that the rest of the album would be great. What I hadn't anticipated was how hard it would hit home, how it would find its way straight into the deepest recesses of my heart and bring up feelings I wasn't even aware I still had. It was a slow progression until it wasn't. 

It all started with Thrift Shop [this is unedited if you don't want your kiddos picking up the F-bomb]:

If you've listened to Top 40 radio at all the past few months you have heard it about a million times. It is currently Noah's favorite song. Being a family that hits up thrift stores regularly this is right up our alley. You can't deny the song is catchy and fun. Macklemore had my partial attention.

Then I heard Same Love on the radio and cried:

Then I saw the video and cried some more. The lyrics are beautiful and the video stunning. Equal rights is something both my husband and I are passionate about. So much so that it has translated to our oldest son. I arrived home the night of the big vote by the Minnesota Senate to yells of "we won!" and a huge hug from my seven year old. I can't even tell you how much joy filled my heart. 

There are so many good lyrics in this song but the one that always sticks out to me is this:
"When kids are walking around the hallway plagued by a pain in their heart
A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are"

We talk a lot in our society about kids bullying kids, but I think that adults need to take a look in the mirror as well. Our children mimic us more than we know, so one of the best ways to lead is by example. Not only preaching love and acceptance to our children, but practicing it as well, even when we don't think they're watching. Because our kids are always watching us [I get called out on every wedgie I pick]. No kid should be made to feel that suicide is a better option than being openly gay. 

All right Macklemore, straight to my heart, good on ya. What else you got?

The third single is my summer jam Can't Hold Us:

It's impossible to listen to this song and not dance. We sing along to that bad boy in the minivan on the regular. "We came here to live life like nobody was watchin'." The driving dance moves I have for this song are pretty epic. 

I am a lyric AND a melody person. In order for me to fully enjoy music it has to be notes that I like coupled with lyrics that at the very least make sense/aren't super douchey [i.e.I am NOT a fan of Pitbull]. As I listened to the other songs on the album it became abundantly clear that Macklemore is a part of the recovery community. It's woven into the lyrics of quite a few of the songs on the Heist.

 I started to listen even more closely to the album. In fact I had it on repeat one Saturday as the boys napped and I scrubbed the carpet in the former chicken room. This is when the album cemented itself in my heart. I meditated on it. "Starting Over" really hit home. It's a song about relapse.

If you've ever loved [or been] an addict you know that relapse is pretty much guaranteed. Very few addicts are able to get sober and stay completely sober until they die. Sometimes it's one drink, sometimes it's a full on downward spiral. It may happen a week later, it may be decades later. But odds are it will happen. The song is written from the viewpoint of the addict but he speaks about the affects it has on his loved ones as well.

"Haven't seen tears like this on my girl in awhile
the trust that I once built's been betrayed
but I'd rather live telling the truth and be judged for my mistakes
than falsely held up, given props, loved and praised
I guess I gotta get this on the page"

Part of why Macklemore makes music and tells his story is to help others on their journey. In order to do that he has to be no less than completely honest, mistakes and all. "If I can be an example of getting sober, then I can be an example of starting over." Addiction comes with so much shame, for both the addict and those that love them. This causes people to clam up, to hold it all in, to not tell a soul, to pretend that everything is ok. Holding that all in is depressing and exhausting and so very heavy. It's more weight than any single person should ever have to carry on their own.

I am not yet ready to openly share my journey through a loved one's addiction so publicly as Macklemore is, but I'm so thankful there are people like him out there spreading this message. You are not alone. You will make mistakes. You will face difficult conversations and disappointment. You'll fuck up. And that's ok. You're not alone. 

The effects of dealing with a loved one's addiction cause a certain kind of madness in those closest to them that can take a long time to go away. This song made me realize my need to continue to go to Al Anon to keep letting go of those irrational or destructive thoughts and behaviors. Recovery isn't a cakewalk, it's a long process for everyone involved. And that's ok. It took the Heist to remind me of that. So as you see me dancing to "Can't Hold Us" in my minivan, know that I am not just dancing, but showing my gratitude for a hip hop artist who is willing to be vulnerable and write about themes that don't generally fall into his genre. "Change the game, don't let the game change you, all my people stay true."

[Note: while I don't often write publicly about my experiences with a loved one's addiction I am more than happy to talk about them in private. I spent way too long carrying the burden by myself without telling ANYONE. It was actually the reason I started blogging (anonymously at first). I needed an outlet, an ear, a shoulder. So I am offering you the same because carrying that burden alone is unnecessary. If you need a non-judgmental shoulder or an ear, don't hesitate to shoot me an email @ juneofthemoonblog at gmail dot com. I found a great pillar of support in my online community that helped me through some hard times [as did all of my family once I finally asked for help] and am always here to pay that forward]

1 comment:

  1. oh man, I feel you. I was married to an alcoholic, and it was tough.

    and on a different note, I'm a music fiend (ok, maybe a similar note? haha!) and there are a handful of albums that I truly believed have transformed me, thus changing my life. If you like Grace Potter you should check out Jessie Baylin's album Little Spark.


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