If you're like me, you still listen to albums. Full albums, not pieces of albums shuffled together (I still shuffle too; no judging). There is just something about a succession of songs in the order the artist intended for them to be in that tells a story, has an arc, creates a feeling that one song just can't accomplish. And sometimes, one of these albums speaks to you in a way that really connects with your life -- like the artist just lived what you are living right now, and gave you this great accompaniment to make it a richer experience. This could be something as light as an album that makes you feel like you're riding to the beach with the windows down; or it could be heavy, like therapy on a cloudy day in an even cloudier part of life.
The first time this happened to me in a memorable way was Emery's I'm Only a Man. It's an album about sin and shortcomings relevant to humanity. Divorce, abortion, infidelity, even murder -- from both sides of the story. At the time my parents were going through their separation, and even though the songs didn't really provide a lot of answers for me, it somehow brought a sense of healing; as if just knowing that someone else had struggled with the same topic and wrote these songs as a result made me feel better.
Right now the album that heals is The Avett Brothers' True Sadness. It's been a rough summer moving cross country with a lot of unexpected turbulence along the way. As things seem to get worse in some ways, better in others, these songs keep coming back to mind. It's not because I am "truly sad," and even some of the things on the album have nothing to do with my situation; but I think when I'm taking in art created by someone else who must have been truly sad, listening is sharing the sadness. This album is particularly great because it deals with tough issues in just a light enough manner to make it palpable. It's not doom and gloom, but an honest expression of life's struggles with a tinge of hope to get you through.
This whole discussion reminds me of this bible verse:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
We can find joy in our struggles, which often times comes through sharing them with others, be it through music, writing, art or personal interaction. If you're going through something, I hope you can find what you need to get through it, whether it's scripture, a friend or even an Avett Brothers album.