If you've met me or spoken to me in the last 8 years, you've undoubtedly heard me speak of my favorite band, Girlyman. I may have made you a CD, directed you to their website or videos online, invited you to a show, or even sang some of their songs for you. The sound that these three (and later four) people made together was never short of breathtaking. I was initially drawn to their amazing vocal harmonies and varied instrumentation, but before long I was also moved by their lyrics. These songs spoke to me in ways I had never experienced before. Well, today after a year and a half of a hiatus, the band has officially announced the end. I am so saddened by this news, though not surprised, as I have followed the other projects each of them have been working on and there has been a definite feeling of the end of an era.
To say that Girlyman changed my life is no hyperbole. I found their music during a good time in my life, but life happens and I went through some tough times. Sad times. Times when I lost myself and the man I know myself to be. This group's music helped me explain things that I was unable to put in words and get through these times with a deeper understanding of myself and my life.
During a particularly tough time, I was at a loss for how to feel happy about much of anything. I went with some very special people to see a Girlyman show on my birthday in 2009, just as they were getting ready to record and release the Everything's Easy album. During the show they played several of the new songs, some I was aware of and some they had never played publicly before including a song that was like a mirror reflection of what was in my head and my heart.
I am an emotional person under any circumstance, but on this night, I experienced one of the few genuinely cathartic moments of my life. Wherever You Keep speaks to how it's hard to be around others who may bring you down, and to support them and yourself during difficult times. When I returned home after the show, this particular song stuck in my head. I played it over and over when I finally got the CD because it summed up how I was feeling in life. I played the song for my therapist and together we discussed why this song spoke to me and it helped me make a few breakthroughs to get back to myself again.
This is just one example of how much I have been given by finding the music of Girlyman. The song This is Me is my personal theme; that I can only be who I am and show who I am to everyone. Somewhere Different Now reminds me that we are all in transition and that's natural. Everything's Easy is about gratitude and comfort in simple things. I could go on and on here about every song and what it means to me. Hell, I still might dedicate more posts to talking about the music that has affected me so much.
But it's not all been a huge emo mopey time. Their live shows were some of the funniest times ever, as the improvised tuning songs (with harmonies!) never failed to amuse, and the banter was better than any stand up set I've ever seen. The cover songs were clever and fun. How many other folk/acoustic bands could possibly segue so effortlessly into Christina Aguilera in the middle of a song about unrequited lesbian love? Voting for which song you wanted to hear (the backwards version of Wild Thing always got my vote) and stomping, clapping and clinking beer mugs to Through to Sunrise were traditions at every show. And the times I had experiencing the music with friends just cannot be overstated. So many in jokes (we got a complicated parking!) and good times that were shared in bars across the south and even a few here in Chicago will stay with me forever.
It is a sad time to have final confirmation that this music that I loved so much, so thoroughly, is at an end. But I can still be so thankful that it existed at all, and that I got to be a part of it.
"A little star of brilliant hope in skies of black we are" - From This is Me.