As I write this post, Brandon Flowers’ new album, The Desired Effect, has been out for about a month. I had been waiting for this album since it was announced in February. Like a lot of fans, I took notice of The Killers (the band of which Flowers is the leader singer) when their single Somebody Told Me hit radio in 2004. I was immediately hooked on the song and liked it unequivocally.
Unequivocally perhaps, but silently. One of my best friends at the time (see Lost in Zooropa) was as obsessed with music as I was, and we both prided ourselves in having really good taste. Although we didn’t always see eye to eye on specifics, we did agree that the other had a good ear and trusted each other’s musical judgment.
But with Somebody Told Me, and its album Hot Fuss, I felt hesitant. The Killers’ sound was different from what was being heard in alternative rock at the time and, while I liked their first singles, I was unsure of how they would hold up to the critics, including this friend, Doug. I thought he would ridicule their synth, ‘80s sound. There was an emotional element in the music that took me back to junior high in Miami that I knew he just wouldn’t get. And so, as I listened to Somebody Told Me on repeat and reveled in the swell of All These Things That I’ve Done, I kept silent about my new discovery.
Fast forward to a few months later. Doug and I were talking, as usual, about music, discussing new bands we were listening to. He mentioned this new, up-and-coming band, The Killers. Had I heard them? I should really give them a listen because they’re one of the best bands to come out in a long time and they’re going places musically that no one else is going. I really should check them out.
I was…surprised, yes. But mostly I was mad, at myself. Here I had been listening to this band for months already, and Doug was taking all the credit for discovering it first. I didn’t say much beyond, “OK. I’ll look them up,” because there really wasn’t much to say. I was just angry with myself at the missed opportunity of being the one to have introduced Doug to The Killers (who would become one of the best bands of the 2000s and one of Doug’s all-time favorite bands), and I was angry at the pattern this revealed.
Obviously, not speaking up about a new favorite band isn’t very important. But what was important was my silence over something new I loved just because I didn’t know what someone else would think of it. But, as I’ve realized, this is what I often do. Back in 2004 and even now, I tend to second guess myself until I get certain people’s approval. I stay quiet about my preferences, about what I want, about what I want to try, for fear that others won’t understand or approve it.
It’s one of the reasons why, even though I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 15, I am just now opening up my notebook, as it were, and making my words available for others to see. I’m just now stepping out and putting time, effort, and emotional investment into something I really want, with no guarantee that anyone else will think it’s worth it.
So, in a new pursuit of changing patterns and finally going after what’s important to me, about two months ago I started to diligently plan for this blog. I made a calendar of due dates to work through the setup and the writing process. I took a blogging course. I got serious about my desire to write and started taking the steps needed to start.
One day as I was working on my blog prep, there was a post on Brandon Flowers’ Twitter. It was a clip of him in the studio listening to a few seconds of his new song I Can Change. He was seated at the controls, shirtless, back to the camera, pumping his fist in time to the music. It was beautiful. Here was an incredibly talented, accomplished man dancing along to the sound of his own music in an unpretentious, unedited way.
Of course, I get that this was promo for the then yet-to-be-released album. I get that he and his label were revving up for a strong release and this clip of him dancing shirtless was catering to the fans, especially to those of us who find him attractive. I also realize that, as part of The Killers (who’ve now sold over 22 million albums), Brand Flowers already has made his name in music.
But even considering the commercial aspect of the clip, to me this was inspiration. While I can’t know Flowers’ true motivation, what I saw was a man putting himself out there before the world. He was dancing to his own music, his own words, without having yet received validation from the fans and the buyers that this song was worth dancing to. I saw in this small clip a man being bare and resting on what he could bring to the table – his talent, his passion, his belief in his art, and his trust that some of us out there would enjoy dancing along to this song, too. This image to me was propelling, one of many small nudges pushing me forward to my own baring.
Now, while I idealize rock stars as much as the next fan, perhaps age and a growing sense of self-worth (my therapist is a miracle worker) have helped me realize that for all his voice and talent and beautiful face and millions of fans, Brandon Flowers is just like me – he’s just a person and I’m just a person. We both bring only what we can. And if Brandon Flowers can sit on camera in his studio and pump his fists in enjoyment to one of his yet-to-be-released songs, then I can sit on my bed, laptop in hand, and pump up my courage to put these words on the page and let them out for whoever cares to see them.
While Flowers is speaking to a woman in his song, to me the chorus speaks to what I’m finding the courage to finally do. I can say to myself:
I can bend
I can break
I can shift
I can shape
Blaze a trail through the driving rain
Girl, I can change for you
I can change for you
I can break with the fear I’ve carried for years that has made me scared to try. I can shift into a mindset that has more hope, perseverance, and nerve than it’s ever had before. I can shape myself into the person I prefer to be, a person I think God would be happy I’m being. I can blaze through the driving rain of negative emotion and self-attacking thoughts, and, for once, put my energy and focus on coming out on the other side where I want to be, regardless of what others may think.
Of course, this is my first post, and it’s for a simple blog. I haven’t achieved my Somebody Told Me moment nor my Hot Fuss status. And, though my confidence grows, I’m not pretentious enough to assume that I will. But whether I do or not is beside the point. The point – and most importantly, the joy – is that this post exists. I’ve put aside fears, self-consciousness, and the waiting for the nod of approval from others, and I’m taking that small, crucial step: I’m here.
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