File this one under “It’s not like me to do this, but…”
I have Feb. 28 marked on my digital calendar. That’s the expected U.S. release date of “Days into Year,” the latest album by Canadian band Elliott Brood. It will mark the first complete album I’ve purchased in years, and the only one in my lifetime I’ve purchased on the release date.
Crazy I know. This isn’t Justin Bieber. And regardless of how I may have acted during the spider scene in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” I am not a twelve year old girl. I am not a giddy groupie looking for autographs. I wouldn’t even recognize the band members if they showed up on my doorstep.
Then why am I so excited? Partly because I love Elliott Brood’s sound, which their facebook page describes as “death country” and “frontier rock.” In other words, no one really knows how to describe it.
But music is only part of my excitement. The story is the other.
The album itself was inspired by a European tour that took the band to the D-Day beach heads in France. As they traveled, they settled in to what it might mean to leave family and go to war—especially as a teenager being thrown into such a brutal conflict as World War II. This mood inspired “Days into Years,” a meditation on loss, uncertainty, and the courage to live.
That’s not a perspective you get from twenty-two year-olds playing nightclubs for the thrill of it. Rather, this album is only possible because the band members are older (late thirties). They’ve had time to reflect on more than just youthful energy or personal success. At this stage of life, they can put their lives in the larger context of history, and see the paradox that comes with their art.
In a manner of thinking, they are like the D-Day soldiers, sometimes forgotten and unnamed, but significant for their actions in a limited sphere. Who knows how many individual soldiers acted bravely, but without recognition? Who knows how much heroism was lost in the fighting, left only to echo in the saved life of a comrade who may never have known.
Who knows how many songs have touched someone at a core level and made life a little more beautiful because of that touch?
Most of us artistic types—musicians, writers, painters, etc.—will never be famous, much less rich. But we don’t have to be. If our art conveys something true about life—even if it’s only to a few who share the path with us—then what we do matters. Maybe even more than the next platinum pop single.
May you find and create music that matters this week.