“My Name” – Everybody Makes Mistakes

This song is the sound of things to come.  It seems to belong to Leave Here a Stranger more so than this album.  It’s a good driving song, with its steady, relaxed tempo and LHAS is a driving album.  It has that feeling of driving around with the windows down, rolling past a summer sunset and smelling the honeysuckle in the air.  Or maybe it’s that I just can’t wait to get to LHAS because it is my favorite and my restlessness is showing.

The song builds in layers.  After a short drum intro, we get dual acoustic guitars and a synthesizer laying out the laid back rhythm.  In four measures, we get a second synthesizer adding harmony to the mix.  In another four measures, the bass and the lead guitar jump in.  This intro takes it’s time setting the mood before the vocals begin.

The vocals are clear and take a more prominent place in the mix than what we typically hear on a sf59 song.  We get a back up harmony vocal in places that adds to the fullness of the song.  Each instrumental part takes its chance to grab your attention.  The synthesizers swell in the chorus.  The acoustic guitar gets its own solo moment.  The bass jumps around through most of the song until it stands out with descending lines in the outro.  But even in these moments, nothing stands out too much.  There are no soaring solo moments in this song, just a steady contentment.

These are what you like
So I’ll turn in my card ‘til the payment’s right
These are things you need
I’ll turn in my card until the payment’s right

This song is about belonging.  We could take this in several different directions.  It could be about taking on a name in marriage.  It could be about the atonement found in Christ’s sacrifice.  It could be about joining a band.  Whichever way we go with it, it is about finding people you belong with.  There is a sense that the relationship might be transactional because of the mention of payments, but, for the singer, it is more than that.  He enjoys being around the person and enjoys the sense of belonging they have with each other.

Let’s go with the band interpretation.  This not because I think it is the right or the best interpretation, but because I went to a marching band competition over the weekend.  It brought back so many memories from high school.  When I walked next to the field and heard the drum line beat out a marching cadence, my breath hitched.  I was transported back a quarter century and all those  summer and fall days I spent marching in that line with a group of about 80 kids, all of them exquisitely diverse and quirky.

‘Cause I like it when you’re hanging around
And I like it when you’re hanging around
‘Cause you took on my name
‘Cause you took on my name
‘Cause you took on my name
‘Cause you took on my name

I didn’t join the band because I wanted to be in the band.  I joined because I wanted to hang out with my friends who were already in band.  I learned the saxophone just well enough to be able to play along with everyone else.  I had no intention of being any better than that.  

Soon some of my other friends followed me in joining the band, like I was some kind of pied saxophonist.  We all spent a lot of time hanging around.  Day long road trips were equal parts conversation and sarcasm.  When all the people became too much for introvert me, I would put the She’s the Queen cassette in my Walkman and listen to it for hours, finding a place of solace amidst all the over sized personalities corralled together in that yellow bus speeding down the interstate.

These are things you say
When we drive in a car with the songs we make
These are things I need
Know when to call and know when to leave

Despite my best efforts to remain a mediocre musician, I ended up learning a lot from that experience.  There’s something about learning to breathe in and out at the same time as the people around you.  You work together (with some people you may have nothing in common with and may not even like) to form shapes on the field that have meaning.  You learn to listen to everyone around you so you know when you are out of tune.  You learn to watch the people around you to learn when you are in the out of place or out of step.  You learn your place as a part of a whole. And isn’t that what belonging is really about?  Finding your place, your rhythm, your note that blends in with those around you.

‘Cause I like it when you’re hanging around
And I like it when you’re hanging around
‘Cause you took on my name
‘Cause you took on my name
‘Cause you took on my name
‘Cause you took on my, on my name

Watching the bands at the competition this weekend, I realized how much I missed sharing that kind of unified purpose with a group of people.  I miss the kind of conversations that you end up having with people because you are stuck next to them for hours and you have to find a way.  Conversations these days don’t have that forced element to them.  If someone gets on my nerves now, I can leave.  I don’t have to work my way through it.  Maybe these kinds of restraints lead to deeper relationships because you have to work for them.  

I still miss hanging around those guys, even the ones who got on my nerves the most.  I miss the shared purpose.  I miss the belonging.  But, as this song says, you have to know when to leave and once you leave, you can never go back.  You can’t step into the same river twice.  The closest you can come to it is to remember that once you shared a name and a purpose with those people.  What you learned from them is never far away because it is a part of who you are now.  And in this, the belonging never ends.

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