Toward the end of 2012, someone recommended that I read a book by this new author, Colleen Hoover. She was becoming very popular on her debut novel. It was a romance, and at first, I winced. It was called Slammed. I imagined an E. L. James scenario. It was a YA romance. Before I could tell her that it wasn’t for me, she simply said, “I know you like poetry. It’s about a couple with slam (or spoken word) poetry woven into their relationship. Trust me.” I gave it some thought and put it off. She asked repeatedly if I’d started it and what did I think. I think it’s a bad idea is what I didn’t say.
I finally gave in one day when I was sick and at home.
The first thing I read in this book was a quote from The Avett Brothers. It read,
“…I’m as nowhere as I can be,
Could you add some somewhere to me?”
-The Avett Brothers, Salina
I have to admit, by this point, I was intrigued. Early on the main character describes her love for the band. She bonded with her father through their music. Her description of them sounded terrific.
My father and I would stay up at night and sing some of the songs together as he attempted to work the chords out on his guitar. He described them to me once. He said, “Lake, you know a band has true talent when their imperfections define perfection.”
I eventually understood what he meant when I started really listening to them. Broken banjo strings, momentary passionate lapses of harmony, voices that go from smooth to gravelling to all out screaming in a single verse. All these things add substance, character and believability to their music.
-Slammed, Colleen Hoover
As I read, I found more and more of their quotes at the beginning of the chapters. Another character is a poetry teacher and describes them as poets. I found this to be true with every quote I read. I finished the book in no time and loved it. A quick Google lead me to an amazing discovery. They were a real band. I read through lyric after lyric. I pulled up one of their songs on YouTube and only listened for a moment. It didn’t sound like something I’d be interested in.
I asked my good friend, who also happened to be my boss at the time, if she had heard of The Avett Brothers. I hadn’t heard their name out loud, and mispronounced it. She said, “If you mean The Avett Brothers, then yes. They’re great!”
We sat down at her computer, she pulled up a song and played it for me. It was The Ballad of Love and Hate. It was sad. It was sweet. It was a story. It made me love The Avett Brothers. We listened to a few more songs. I was hooked.
That night I listened to everything I could find. Some songs, I didn’t know if I could get into. The first listen just wouldn’t catch me. Then, I would listen again and find what it was I needed from it. I read about them, their beginnings, their lives.
I listened over and over to all their songs. The forums I read said that their live shows were something to behold. They danced, jumped, celebrated, got emotional, and everything between. A friend of mine’s husband got to see them live and said it was the best live show he’s ever been to.
A few months ago, I found out that they were doing a show in Brandon, MS. So close.
I talked about going for a solid month. Tony being Tony, just said, “Well, let’s do it.” I had to do my normal process for what I consider a big decision. I had to overthink, analyze all angles, and doubt every detail. I finally gave in and got tickets with the help of a friend. I was ecstatic.
The tickets were purchased on March 2. I couldn’t wait.
“Well I’ve been locking myself up in my house for some time now
Reading and writing and reading and thinking
and searching for reasons and missing the seasons
The Autumn, the Spring, the Summer, the snow
The record will stop and the record will go
Latches latched the windows down,
the dog coming in and the dog going out
Up with caffeine and down with the shot
Constantly worried about what I’ve got
Distracted by work but I can’t make it stop
and my confidence on and my confidence off
And I sink to the bottom I rise to the top
and I think to myself that I do this a lot”
-The Avett Brothers, Talk on Indolence
Saturday night, I got to see my favorite band perform some of my favorite songs live. I found that my husband also likes them. I was surprised when he wanted to go to the concert with me and my friend. I didn’t think they were his type of music but found him singing along to most of the songs.
The experience defied my expectations. From the moment they stepped onto the stage, the air was electric. The whole crowd went through ups and downs. The emotion that the entire band emitted was incredible.
We laughed with them, loved with them, hurt with them, mourned with them, and were joyful with them. It was an experience I’ll never forget, but one I mostly definitely want to repeat. My friend and I danced and sang at the top of our lungs. I screamed until my throat ached and clapped until my hands were sore. I can’t imagine a better performance. My only regret is that I didn’t find them sooner, but like all things in my life, a book lead me to something great. I’ve said it a thousand times, but I’ll repeat myself again. Words are my most favorite thing, and The Avett Brothers have a way with words.
My favorite quote from my favorite Avett Brothers song reads, “Decide what to be and go be it.”
Short, simple, and to the point.
They give good advice. They tell great stories. They teach me about life. They see a different perspective. They feel everything they sing. They weave magic into their words. They tell the truth. The Avett Brothers are wordsmiths of the first degree. That’s why they’re my favorite band.