I was supposed to run for President in 2012.

Tomorrow is election day. A Presidential election, at that. Is it bad that I feel fortunate not to live in an ‘important’ state such as Ohio? I have friends there who had received 12 political phone calls THIS MORNING!!! There was a time when I couldn’t get enough of the political game! In fact, it all started before I was enough old enough to vote. When I was in high school, my best friend and I hatched a plan that in the year 2012, we would run on a ticket since we would be 35 in the year 2012. Ha…how things have changed and somehow time has stood still because there is no way I am really 35!!

One thing that hasn’t changed is how serious I take my right and obligation to vote. I have voted in every election that I was eligible for since I turned 18. Sometimes that included voting by absentee ballot, sometimes that included driving to multiple voting locations after moving into a new precinct, sometimes that meant bring all 4 kids with me. Although the last one was often a pain….contrary to popular belief, becoming a mother does not include gaining a set of eyes in the back of your head. Therefore, trying to concentrate on the ballot in front of you can become quite the challenge when you bring four young children with you to vote.

But, pain or not, bringing the kids with me is something I will always do. In fact, on primary days, I wait until they are off school to ensure they can still go. I clearly remember going with my parents to vote when I was young and I think it had a large impact on my feelings surrounding voting today. I want to help instill that same since of duty in my children that my parents did for me.

One of our favorite family stories surrounding voting happened during the last Presidential election. I made the big effort to get all 4 children out the door…they were ages 6, 4, 2 and newborn at the time and getting out the door was always a challenge!! Anyway, we got to our voting place and the oldest two boys were given Kids’ Vote ballots to fill out. Not wanting to miss out on something, their 2 yr old sister said she wanted one also. Of course, I had to help them fill it out (I won’t tell who they voted for, but I approved.)  And when it got to be my daughter’s turn, I asked her who she wanted me to check off. She looked at me and shook her head. She didn’t want either one of the options. I was started to get antsy to be done and pushed her to pick one. Again, she shook her head and said “I want Fancy Nancy!” And that is who I wrote it!! To fully appreciate the story, you need to know that Fancy Nancy is a character in a children’s book series who has red, curly hair and likes everything fancy. You also need to know that that description pretty much fits my daughter as well!!

Tomorrow is the big day and I don’t care who you vote for (well, I do, but….), JUST VOTE!!! Let your voice be heard. Here is another plea from a friend and amazing musician to vote. Please watch this video…words can’t describe how moving it is. Ben Sollee made his way to the Lincoln Memorial recently and sang his song, A Few Honest Words, even after being relocated by security. As you can see, the lyrics make this song very fitting this time of the year.

A Few Honest Words

If you’re going to lead my country,
If you’re gonna say it’s free
I’m gonna need
a little honesty

Just a few honest words
It shouldn’t be that hard
Just a few honest words
Is all I need

I don’t need no handshake
No firm look in the eye
Don’t tell me what you think I,
I ought to hear

I don’t need no high life
No fancy premiers
Just tell me what you really think
Without fear

Just a few honest words
It shouldn’t be that hard
Just a few honest words
Is all I need

Love is a bitter food
You’ve learned to eat
You still don’t know, oh,
Where it grows

And our love of freedom
Holds a veil over our eyes
Rights that are given
Can be taken away

Just a few honest words
It shouldn’t be that hard
Just a few honest words
Is all I need

We don’t choose our leaders
The choose themselves
Tell me again
About democracy

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The new Avett Brothers album….the good, the bad, and the ugly!

When I first starting really getting into the Avett Brothers a few years ago in 2009, with the release of I and Love and You, I couldn’t get enough of them. And I was lucky, because there was so much other material to start collecting and listening to! I discovered some of my favorite songs on that release (such as The Perfect Space, Laundry Room, Tin Man…ok, there is a lot I like about it!!). But I also heard people say that it was too ‘polished’ for the Avetts. That they preferred them more raw. I started going back in their discography and started to understand what long time fans meant. The Avett Brothers have such strong lyric writing capacities and many of those lyrics are weighed in heavy emotions. Those feelings and emotions come out best when the songs are being performed live without restraint. And that is something very different than a finely tuned album recording. There is room for both, but if you only listen to an Avetts album, then you are depriving yourself of the magical experience that is the Avett Brothers. If you can’t see them live and in person, you can still get the feelings by listening to their one of their (3) live albums or even watching them perform on tv (or on their Live, Volume 3 dvd).

Their newest album, The Carpenter, does not disappoint on the lyrical front. They are masters with their words and ideas. I would love to be a fly on the wall during a writing session! Initially, I was a little disappointed that the boot stomping sing-alongs were missing from this album. But that was only initially. The Carpenter feels like a much more serious, sentimental release. It seems to follow in the foot steps of The Gleam (2006) and The Second Gleam (2008) releases. Those EPs are softer and played live less, for the most part. They seem more private, if that is possible. That said, some of my very favorite Avett brothers songs are on the Gleams — Murder in the City (I was there for this performance!!) and When I Drink (the inspiration for the name of this blog!!), for example. When listening to The Carpenter album, you can tell that they have grown up, gotten married, had kids (some of them!), and watched as one of their young offspring fought cancer. They are more mature and more aware that life is more than ‘just playing music’. Just listen to this song, A Fathers First Spring, that mentions Scott’s eldest daughter, Eleanor.

I never lived til I lived in your light
And my heart never beat like it does at the sight
Of you baby blue, God blessed your life.
I do not live ‘less I live in your life.
I do not live ‘less I live in your life.

I think I’ve covered the good and bad (I mean, it really isn’t bad…just a little disappointment at first!)…now for the ugly. Recently, Scott and Seth Avett performed a little of their single, Live and Die, off the new album, for a Gap commercial. They have also teamed up with Target and when you buy the cd there, you get two bonus songs. And I admit, a part of me cringed a little when I heard about it. I mean, the Avett Brothers don’t exactly scream Gap to me…but I do buy Gap clothes, so I can’t fault them there! Another part of me was elated. That part of me has learned a lot about the music industry over the past 9 months and I understand what that type of exposure can mean for an artist. There are a lot of “fans” yelling sell-out in the direction of the brothers. But I really think that is unfair. These days, there are very few musicians who are out there making millions. The majority are barely scraping by and sacrificing a lot along the way, especially if they have families. If the Gap ad and the Target deal mean that the Avett Brothers can spend a little more time at home, cherishing those moments that they have learned are precious and irreplaceable, then I applaud them. And I hope other real fans will feel the same way…yes, we all love their music and would prefer that they play in our backyard everyday, but they are also real people with real families and friends who need them! It’s easy to yell sell-out, but let’s look deeper into the situation to understand it a little better.

Here is the Gap ad…and come on, they are true to themselves and this ad is just too adorable!!