Tuneful Tuesday: What I’m Looking For

There are a number of songs I can remember from my lifetime that I just did not “get” when they were popular. Sometimes I was too young to understand what they were talking about. Sometimes I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to appreciate them. And, probably, sometimes I just didn’t care what they meant. Whatever the case, I didn’t appreciate these songs fully until they had passed their apex of popularity.

A prime example of this is U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” from the band’s mega-selling album The Joshua Tree. Those old enough to remember when this album was current will no doubt recall that radio, television, and virtually every other type of media was saturated with all things pertaining to the Irish rock band. As is my common practice when I feel someone or something is being overexposed, I eventually just stopped paying much attention to all the hoopla, which is sort of a shame, because The Joshua Tree is a really brilliant album, recorded before U2 lost some of the fire that made them such a treat to listen to in their early days.

Beyond the fatigue aspect, though, I had a difficult time reconciling Bono’s lyrics to the Christian beliefs he seemed to express. I mean, if you are a Christian and you’ve met Jesus, what more could you be looking for? Even outside of the religious slant, if you climbed the “highest mountain,” what else do you have to accomplish? If you’ve kissed “honey lips,” what lust is there left to satisfy? If Bono had found all that, what in the world could he still be looking for?

All the years later, I understand what he was singing about. Whether it is a symptom of depression or middle age or simple selfishness, there is still a large amount of dissatisfaction residing within me. Whatever that missing piece is that will make me feel whole, I haven’t found it yet. Religion, family, work… There is still something not quite right, and I have not been able to identify what that is. There is a peace and joy which still eludes me. Sometimes I believe I have found what I lack, only to see it slip away once more. Sometimes I wonder if such a thing exists at all.

I used to sit back and declare judgement on Bono for not being satisfied with what he had. I wish now that I could take those words of condemnation back. I get it now. And I’m still looking, too.

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Not A Real ____________

beerThis, my friends, is a drink order known as the “Four Provinces.” This particular selection of Irish beers can be obtained at the Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant at Downtown Disney in Orlando, Florida. It consists of Guinness, Smithwicks, Harp, and Kilkenny beers. I can’t remember now which brand was the oldest, but I do remember Guinness was the newest.

Most people who know me know that I do not like the taste of beer. In fact, I don’t really like the taste of alcohol in anything. It might come as a surprise, then, to learn that this order of the Four Provinces was delivered to my table at the restaurant and pub last week.

My last name – Sheridan – is very Irish in origin. In fact, I believe at one time it was actually O’Sheridan. At any rate, without going into a needlessly long geneology lesson, the roots of my family are based in the Emerald Isle. Even though I have never explored these roots in depth, I’ve grown to strongly identify with Irish culture. And, since the Irish are know for their consumption of alcohol, I figured in order to be a real Irishman I’d need to at least sample a little beer if I was going to be in an Irish pub.

My plan seemed to be rolling along smoothly as my wife and I sat and listened to Irish music, watched the Irish dancers, and admired the Irish decor. Everything fell apart, though, once I actually had to taste the beers. With all due respect to my ancestors, they sucked. All of them, with Guinness probably being the worst of the bunch. Not that I’ve ever tasted it, but I can only compare the sensation of drinking Guinness to downing battery acid. I took maybe two small sips out of each glass, and then I was done.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with myself in that moment. I mean, this was my chance to fully embrace the Irish experience, and I couldn’t even finish one glass of beer. I still list a trip to Ireland as the number one item on my bucket list, and being in that pub felt warm and comfortable, almost like home to me. In an odd way, I consider myself an Irishman by heart. I couldn’t hold my alcohol, though. Does that mean I’m not as authentic as I thought I was?

Of course, the reality of the situation is that there are probably plenty of men in Ireland who don’t like to drink beer. In my mind, though, at that moment, I had somehow convinced myself every male over there walked around with a draught in his hand 24/7. It’s like this a lot for me. Every other guy at the pool knows how to swim. Every other guy knows how to work on a car. Every other guy knows how to fix up a house. I’m always the one who doesn’t feel genuine.

Dysthymic_Disorder-2I was listening to a podcast recently where someone with dysthymia (or Persistent Depressive Disorder) made an observation along these lines: Since dysthymia isn’t full-blown depression like bipolar disorder, they sometimes felt as if they couldn’t even get being depressed right. It was as if their disorder wasn’t quite severe enough to make them “successful” at being depressed. I thought this was both a sad and pretty self-astute observation. Sometimes you don’t even feel like you can even get it wrong correctly.

The cruelest part of all these comparisons, though, is that the assumptions they lead to are never completely true. Plenty of guys can’t swim. Plenty of guys know nothing about working on cars. Plenty of men know nothing about home repair. And just as there are probably plenty of men in Ireland who don’t drink beer, there are an awful lot of people out there who “only” have dysthymia who can rest in knowing that their disorder is no less daunting than anyone else’s.

So even though I couldn’t handle the Four Provinces, I’m pretty sure they’ll still allow me to enter Ireland one day and fulfill my dream. If not, maybe I’ll just make a tour of American-based pubs. I’m pretty sure I’m a real American … right?

Tuneful Tuesdays: No One Knows What It’s Like

In the great pantheon of rock ‘n’ roll, The Who has always stood out as a group I never quite “got.” They have all the elements of a band I should be a big fan of – gritty lead singer, tasteful guitar player, monster bass player, and go-for-broke drummer – but something about their music never connected with me. Maybe it’s because the arrangements would occasionally jerk around abruptly or production just wasn’t as good back then. I think a larger issue, though, is I just couldn’t put up with Pete Townshend whining all the time.

Occasionally, however, he would come across a lyric I could identify with, even if the execution was never quite there. One of those instances occurred in the song “Behind Blue Eyes.” Some great lyrics, but the song shifts awkwardly in the middle section and sort of pulls me out of what’s going on. Thankfully, though, several years down the road another group would give the song a new and unexpected new life – well, for me anyway.

I am a lover of all things Irish. Heck, with a last name like “Sheridan” it’s practically a requirement. Traveling to Ireland one day is currently at the top of my bucket list, and I seem to add new reasons to want to go every day. The music from there does something to my soul whenever I hear it, and you can’t listen to Irish music for very long without running across The Chieftains. On their 1992 project An Irish Evening, the group is joined by Roger Daltrey for a live version of “Behind Blue Eyes” that is, in my opinion, superior to the original version.

Since this is “bad guy” week here on the blog, I thought this song was particularly fitting, since it basically talks about, well, being a bad guy. And since I never pass up a chance to share an Irish song, here’s a link featuring The Chieftains, Roger Daltrey, and a very young Jay Leno. As Sean O”Casey once said, “All the world’s a stage, most of us are desperately unrehearsed.”