in preparation for the event, i wrote a short introduction to the album i selected to present. this is what i wrote:
the album to be presented tonight is one that i would describe as mature, experienced, humble and above all simple. it does not mince words and never professes to know the answer, but the pure things of life – friends, family, and love are expertly painted with familiar bold colors and accepted as truth. not to claim that true love is easy, no, this work heaves with the impediments that keep us from enjoying truth. it sighs with it's human vices, addictions, and selfishness but even in the throws of it's imperfections the ideal of love is never negated or given up.
this album is made by humans who have witnessed, believe in, and know that love is true, even though at times those three words may be hard to say. i present to you the avett brothers – i and love and you.
after writing this little essay and feeling pretty proud of it, i opened the album and found this passage written by seth avett.
The words "I" and "Love" and "you" are the watermark of humanity. Strung together, they convey our deepest sense of humility, of power, of truth. It is our most common sentiment, even as the feeling of it is so infinitely uncommon; each to proclaim these three words with his or her very own heart and mindset of reason (or lack thereof); a proclamation completely and perfectly new each time it is offered. Uttered daily and nightly by millions, the words are said in an unending array of circumstances: whispered to the newborn in a new mother's arms; shared between best friends on the playground; in the form of sympathy - said by a girl to a boy as the respect continues but the relationship does not. It is said too loudly by parents to embarrassed children in the company of their friends, and by grown children - to their fading parents in hospital beds. The words are thought in the company of the photograph and said in the company of the gravestone. It is how we end our phone calls and our letters... the words at the bottom of the page that trump all those above it, a way to gracefully finish a message, however important or trivial, with the most meaningful gift of all: the communication of love. And yet the words themselves have been the victims of triviality, a ready replacement for lesser salutations among near strangers, burst forth casually as "love ya." Truly? To what degree? Why, how much, and for how long? These are questions befitting the stature of love, though not the everyday banter of vague acquaintance. The words have also been twisted by the dark nature of deceit; to say "I love you" with a dramatic measure of synthetic emotion; a snare set by those who prey upon humanity, driven to whatever selfish end, to gain access to another's body, or their money, or their opportunity. In this realm, the proclamation is disgraced by one seeking to gain rather than to give. In any case, and by whatever inspiration, these words are woven deeply into the fibers of our existence. Our longing to hear them from the right place is maddeningly and simultaneously our finest strength and our most gentle weakness. The album "I and Love and You" is unashamedly defined by such a dynamic of duality. As living people, we are bound by this unavoidable parallel. We are powerful yet weak, capable yet temporary. Inevitably, an attempt to place honesty within an artistic avenue will follow suit. This is a piece which shows us as we are: products of love surrounded by struggle. The music herein is, in many ways, readable as both a milestone and an arrival. A chapter in the story of young men, it bridges the space between the uncertainty of youth and the reality of its release. The record is full with the quality of question and response. As far as questions go, there are plenty - normally residing within the tone and delivery of the lyrics themselves, which, ironically, are sung with so much confidence. Among songs so driven and purposeful, the most basic and relatable doubt comes through with a resounding clarity. Outside of the eternal theme of romantic love, the album speaks thankfully upon a landscape of light-filled rooms, word-filled pages, time machines, forgiveness, singing birds, ocean waves, art, change, confessions of shortcomings, and reasons to continue on. Hope and a cause for smiling follow naturally. In the midst of all this, there are allusions to the less-than-ideal conditions of life: the loss of memory, the inability to control temper, insecurity, indecision, jaded indifference, and the general plague of former and current weakness. "I and Love and You" is al album of obvious human creation, characterized by its best and its worst. Emotional imperfection is a reality for those who recorded this piece, just as it is for this who will hear it. The conclusion of the song from which the title is taken admits that the words "I love you" have become "hard to say." And perhaps that difficulty is as common as its counterpart. Perhaps the inability to say these heaviest of words is as much a part of life as the lighthearted candor of those who say them without any difficulty at all. And so it ends with the phrase whispered to any and by those of us most defeated and elated... I and love and you...
my meager words had been trumped, but i felt no envy, only veneration for the people who had experienced more and compressed their years of joy and tears into a work that takes just a little less than an hour to experience. truly we love to talk on things we don't know about, but if anyone has a credible opinion on the matter of i and love and you its the avett brothers. thank you, scott and seth, for reminding me what those three words mean.