Friday, October 23, 2015

Adele is the Soundtrack of My Relationships

Over the course of my life, there have been few artists who have compelled me to buy every album they’ve released and have me listen to it in its entirety. I usually dabble in singles or enjoy a track I happened to catch on the radio or Shazzam’ed from a coffee shop. For every one song I like, there will be many more that would get the skip from me.

Enter Adele.

For the past seven years, she has been the only one who can string me along from beginning to end and back to the beginning on a never-ending loop. When I first saw the music video for “Chasing Pavements” off her debut album 19, I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. It was so haunting and her voice was absolute heaven. I couldn’t tire of it. That album saw me through my first breakup back in 2008. I spent so many evenings singing to those songs after lighting candles and settling into a hot bath, wondering when my heart would stop hurting and what I was headed towards next. Those moments in that candlelit bathroom were my tiny escapes, tears and all, and I found Adele to be the perfect soundtrack to that phase in my life.

With “First Love,” I thought of him and tried hard to let the relationship float away, but my hope and guilt refused to leave me. I was still so tied to “us.” After wanting to break things off so many times out of the fear that “all things would eventually end anyway,” I’d convinced him that it would not work out between us. And still, I was devastated.

Forgive me first love, but I'm tired
I need to get away to feel again
Try to understand why, don't get so close to change my mind
Please wipe that look out of your eyes, it's bribing me to doubt myself
Simply, it's tiring

Best for Last” made me wish that he’d remember what we shared instead of settling into the arms of a new girl, the one he would eventually marry. I was unapologetic when I sang “Melt My Heart to Stone,” a song about creating a relationship in your head, stringing bits of promises and delusions to form something that means very little to the other person. Isn’t it so easy to make yourself see something that isn’t there when you want so badly for it to be real? Sometimes you need to float on that cloud for a bit until you're ready for it to gently bring you back to earth so you can stand on your own.

I hear your words you made up
I say your name like there should be an us
I best tidy up my head I'm the only one, in love
I'm the only one in love

By the time I met A., at the tail end of 2009, I was able to listen to “Make You Feel My Love” and not be pained by it. Without realizing it, I had finally started to move on. Hope for something nearly two years passed wasn’t necessary anymore.

Her second album, 21, was released in 2011 and already my second relationship was rocky. We’d kiss and makeup more times than I could count and I found myself swirling deeper and deeper into this confusing mess in my head. One moment we were head-over-heels in passion and adventure and the next we couldn’t stand each other. I’d sing “One and Only” to him, envisioning us dancing to it on our wedding day some autumn in the distant future. When he’d ignore my calls after a fight, my mood would drift from a saddened “Don’t You Remember” to a defiant “Take It All.”

Didn't I give it all?
Tried my best
Gave you everything I had, everything and no less
Didn't I do it right? Did I let you down?
Maybe you got too used to having me 'round
Still how can you walk away
From all my tears
It's gonna be an empty road without me right here
But go on and take it, take it all with you
Don't look back at this crumbling fool
Just take it all with my love, take it all with my love

And then there was my song “Set Fire to the Rain,” which spoke to this growing fury inside me, the one that I tried so hard to contain until it just needed to be released. I found that lashing out the chorus had a sort of soothing effect on me…I just wanted to yell it out…

I set fire to the rain
And I threw us into the flames
Where I felt something die, 'cause I knew that
That was the last time, the last time

But it wasn’t the last time. It wasn’t going to be the last time for four more years. Something kept us together, trying over and over. Stubbornness, I used to say, but it had to have been deeper than that. We were invested in one another, we cared. The love was genuinely there, but as he’s said, “Sometimes love isn’t enough.”

And in the spring of 2015, A. stormed away.

Today, Adele released the first single and music video off her upcoming album, 25. After being away for so long, it’s fitting that this first track is titled “Hello.” In a post about her new album, which will be released November 20, Adele explained that her latest creation is a rebirth of sorts. So many have commented on her amazing ability to wrap up a broken heart and release that pain through her vocals, but what would happen if she finally found and maintained her happiness? It seems she might have (the soulful singer gave birth to son Angelo in 2012 with her longtime boyfriend Simon Konecki), but perhaps “this is everything we need” - a beautiful reminder that we need to be gentle with ourselves regardless of who enters or leaves our lives.

“My last record was a break-up record and if I had to label this one I would call it a make-up record,” Adele wrote. “I’m making up with myself. Making up for lost time. Making up for everything I ever did and never did. But I haven’t got time to hold on to the crumbs of my past like I used to. What’s done is done.

“I made the decision to go into becoming who I’m going to be forever without a removal van full of my old junk. I miss everything about my past, the good and the bad, but only because it won’t come back,” she continued. “25 is about getting to know who I’ve become without realising. And I’m sorry it took so long, but you know, life happened.”

In my attempts to please and make so much work, I tore myself apart and absorbed too much blame. I’m still learning how to piece things all together. I’m still in pain, I’m still reeling, but much less than months ago. Perhaps it’s because that “last time” still wasn’t the end of our chapter and after a summer of perhaps giving this more than it deserved, I’m finally closer to taking the training wheels off of this…break up. I've been here before, I know it'll get better eventually. Right now though, it still hurts too much to remember.

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  1. Oh my goodness. This was beautifully and creatively written. I love you and while there are many more storms to weather, I love that you are able to see the difference in where you were then and where you are now.

    1. Thanks, love. I'm glad I get to enjoy her music with you. I can't wait for the new album!

      And yeah, a little difference I guess. I'm just blah. Wanting to already be over this hump, but at the same time saddened by the idea of it, if that makes sense.

  2. I was afraid to ask about A...

    Sigh. The love songs that move me are by groups that pre-date you being born - or maybe not, but not by much..

    I'm lying alone with my head on the phone
    Thinking of you till it hurts
    I know you hurt too but what else can we do
    Tormented and torn apart
    I wish I could carry your smile and my heart
    For times when my life seems so low
    It would make me believe what tomorrow could bring
    When today doesn't really know, doesn't really know..........


    I want you to come back and carry me home
    Away from this long lonely nights
    I'm reaching for you, are you feeling it too
    Does the feeling seem oh so right
    And what would you say if I called on you now
    And said that I can't hold on
    There's no easy way, it gets harder each day
    Please love me or I'll be gone, I'll be gone

    and sappy enough...


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