I’m still one of those people who buys full albums. Many people have moved towards buying ‘singles’ and I guess that I can understand why. Some of the huge pop records that get churned out of the major labels these days seem to feature a couple of radio-ready hits and then not a whole lot more. I don’t want to paint all records with the same brush because there have been a lot of really well written major label records in the past few years (I’m thinking OneRepublic, Taylor Swift, Mumford & Sons, etc.) but I think that there are certainly some artists that are guilty of building records with songs that merely fill up the track list. The debate about whether you like ‘singles’ or ‘albums’ is really not particularly important or exciting, but I want to give you an example of why I will always listen to full albums.
The track in the attached video is off of Ben Rector’s 2008 record “Songs That Duke Wrote.” It’s the tenth of twelve tracks on the album, but is definitely worth the wait. “Thank God I Miss You” touches on something that I think all of us can understand–the meaningless quality that words take in certain situations. I’d like to think that all of us do our best to use words that honestly communicate how we feel and that we avoid overusing the words that mean the most. However, no matter how honest or careful we are with our words there will be moments, both good and bad, that make us feel like we need to amplify the meaning of words that we’ve said before. Words are amazing, but they are limited in a way that our feelings and emotions are not. That means we often struggle to find words to express feelings that have deepened since the last time we tried to describe them. How do you communicate more excitement, more sadness, more regret, more love than the last time that you felt excited, sad, regretful or in love? Some of us would use words like very, so, and really to try and communicate the intensification of our thoughts, but I’ve always found the addition of a qualifier to provide little satisfaction. Ben Rector describes the limitations that words place on us by singing, “sometimes I feel these words are cheap and by the way they’re said, we do not mean them.” But he also admits that words are often all that we have, “from a million miles away, words are all I know to say.” What I love about this song is that Rector comes up with a perfect, simple way to communicate that his words mean more than they have in the past.
The chorus is his attempt to demonstrate the added weight of his words:
So know I wrote this song with all the words, meaning what they mean
Saying what they say
Though it’s nothing you haven’t heard before,
But I mean it more today
Believe me when I say I thank God I miss you
I thank God I miss you
The song stuck with me because I know what it’s like to be at a loss for how to express sorrow, regret, excitement and remorse. I’ve been there and I know that I’m going to be there again. Sometimes there are actions, mistakes or decisions that we just need to own up to. Before we can try to make it better or make amends for our actions we might want to admit that are no words to describe our thoughts. No matter how many words we want to say or how much rambling we want to do, admitting that there are no words to express how we feel is probably more meaningful than anything that we could say. At the end of the day, sometimes the only thing to do is to express that we “mean it more today” and hope that it’s enough.
Buy “Songs That Duke Wrote” here: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/songs-that-duke-wrote/id301363578