The year was 2008 and the season was Fall. I had never been more depressed in my life than during that year, and especially that season. My professional life was a blithering mess, I had no sense of personal worth, and felt extremely distant and alone from community and love. I had gone through excruciating heartbreak a year earlier, and was still wrestling with deep feelings of loss and betrayal. I was just a very angry and unsatisfied person. At the time I was still unmarried, and there was nobody at all on the radar to speak of. I was just drifting from relationship to relationship, like a plank of petrified wood in the middle of the Pacific, just hopelessly moving through a very dark period of my life. I remember lots of pain from that time, and lots of loneliness and anger. I remember disregard for my well being and others' well being. I remember losing all hope that I was going to do something worthwhile with my life. And then, on October 14th 2008, a warming light broke through the bitter end I thought I'd arrived upon. That beacon was Copeland's 4th studio album, You Are My Sunshine, affectionately known as YAMS.
As the first melodies of Should You Return rolled into my brainwaves, I felt myself instantly alive again. Lyrics like "I never knew what to rely upon" and "because a song is all I have to make me feel" were about as relatable as it gets for the 2008 version of me. "And all i want is just a dream to make it worthwhile" poured through my headphones for the first time, and I had a reason to live again. I had hope again. Remember, I was at a point in my life where I was clinging to an ex like a band sticker on my age 15 year old self's first guitar. I was completely unhealthy, and really had nowhere I felt I could turn to get me through that season of my life. Yet, as the musical universe has most often showed me in the past, that one song, that one album, that one band will always find a way to get you through the toughest of times. Music, as it turns out, is my lifeblood, and this album was the medicine I needed to push through the darkness and find my way back to the start, as the beautiful song The Grey Man communicates so wonderfully.
In my world full of hopelessness, fear, and regret, Copeland made a connection to me that inspired hope, determination, and forgiveness. The pinnacle of this hope was the song To Be Happy Now which soars "And in disarray, you just want to live one more day. Cause you just want to be happy now." As an older man, I know that the pursuit of happiness is a trap, but in those darker moments of my fleeting youth, if you would have told me that I could feel the least bit happy I was tooth and nail fighting to find that feeling.
As I look back on that year of my life, I am thankful to be alive. There were so many could-be decisions that would have changed that. There were so many opportunities to step off the ledge and end a dark and depressing road in a number of dangerous ways. I'm convinced that this album came along at a time when I was most desperate, and I'm convinced that it helped to save my life, and more than that, help me live my life in ways I never thought were possible. Music is the best kind of medicine because it allows us to soak in our sorrows and cope with our cares, and find flowing fantastic life in each note, each line, each chorus. You Are My Sunshine is the medicine I needed then, and Copeland was the medical doctor that provided a cure for a lost and depressed soul. I may not need the medicine this album gave me anymore, but I certainly need a reminder now and again of it's curing caress.
I look back at that album 6 years later, and I realize that it's really meant the most to me of Copeland's four studio albums because it carried me through a very troubling time in my life. Now in a much happier place spiritually, emotionally, and mentally, I can listen to this album with a full heart, a thankful spirit, and a genuine appreciation for the artful help this music delivered to me those fateful six years ago. There is an everlasting bond of thankfulness, hopefulness, and pure joy in my life because of this record.
It's so amazing to me how life-giving music is, and how sustaining it can be when you feel like you've lost all sustenance.
So I saw Band Of Horses tonight and OH MY GOSH they were amazing.
The Great Salt Lake
Is There A Ghost
The First Song
Cigarettes, Wedding Bands
Ode to the LRC
No One's Gonna Love You
The General Specific
Also had a fantastic evening with the girl. So glad this is working out so well. :)