Best Albums of 2021


Happy new year, everyone! What that means for this blog is that it’s time for my annual best albums of the year post. Keep in mind while reading that this list is strictly MY opinions, nothing else, so there is no need to be offended that most of these albums are from the same genre. Furthermore, I am by no means a professional music reviewer. I do not have access to every album that is released, & certainly not advanced access to them. I discover new music mostly through the satellite radio in my husband’s vehicle, YouTube, & word of mouth from friends. I’m really old school & don’t even have a Spotify account. Yes, I am crazy & still buy & use actual CDs! One of these days when my car dies, I don’t know what I’m going to do if its replacement doesn’t have a CD player. I literally might pay to have one added to a new car- totally not kidding, y’all!

Anyway, this year, in an effort to diversify my list a bit, I decided to include suggestions from friends on their choices for best albums of the year. You’ll find those at the end of this post, along with a list of my choices for most anticipated albums of 2022.

Also, you’ll notice these are all listed as number 1- that’s because I’m not the most tech savvy blogger & couldn’t figure out how to insert the pictures without the blog automatically restarting my list at number one. Insert massive eye roll.


Best Albums of 2021

  1. I won’t keep you in suspense. My choice for number one album of the year is Created From Filth & Dust by Lilith Czar. Some of you may know Lilith as Juliet Simms, her legal name, who previously performed under that name, as well as with the band Automatic Loveletter. She was also on the show The Voice years ago. Last but not least she is married to Andy Biersack from Black Veil Brides & they could easily win an award for hottest couple. But more importantly they are both highly intelligent talented people who seem to have a truly mature relationship. Anyway, enough intro- onto the music! This album is truly genius from top to bottom. There isn’t a bad or throwaway song on it. Lilith has always had a gorgeous voice but lyrically & musically she is at her most powerful here- & let me tell you, she kicks some serious ass! My absolute favorite is the anthemic Anarchy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1i9jQw5fjk) which even my 5 year-old daughter loves & requests on a regular basis. Other favorites are the poignant Lola (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9qrW3Zkch0) & Diamonds to Dust (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSoj-W7YriA). It’s downright criminal that songs like these aren’t played on every radio station in the country. A lot of the inspiration behind this album was the sexism that Lilith has faced over the years, being told by record labels “Oh, you need to dress like this & sound like this. Be sexy- but not TOO sexy. Do this- but don’t do that!” etc. Nowhere is this inspiration more evident than on the powerful song King (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vly7rbfHqg). Not only is it lyrically powerful but the bass line is banging. Working with Sumerian Records has clearly given Lilith a freedom she’s never had before & I am so here for it! There is so much more I could say about this album but I’ve got many more to write about, so let me just end it by saying this- LISTEN TO IT! Regardless of what genres you usually like, you will NOT be disappointed.
  1. See What’s on the Inside by Asking Alexandria– These 5 British guys are like fine wine- they just get better with time. Every album they release tops the last one, & this one is no exception to that rule. From my very first listen of lead single Alone Again (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1G9DU4Rc9c), I was hooked. Lead guitarist Ben Bruce explained that this was the first album the band has made in years where they did it the old-school way: they all got together in one room & just jammed & wrote music. And boy, can you tell! The guitar riffs here are phenomenal & prove that Ben is definitely one of the best guitarists of the modern era. Lyrically & musically this album is a true masterpiece. Perhaps my favorite from this album is Faded Out (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6j9wWx5dKcs) which includes a supremely catchy guitar lick & lyrics that are so fitting for the depression that Covid has brought on or worsened in so many of us. Other stand-out tracks include Never Gonna Learn (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YrmwaDOEPw) & The Grey (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfOamKyv1Lg).
  1. The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood by Ice Nine Kills– I’ve never been interested in horror movies & probably never will be, but that doesn’t lessen my devotion to this largely horror-inspired band. I’d heard of INK for several years now but had never really listened to them. However, when I saw that they did a track with Jacoby Shaddix from Papa Roach I was intrigued enough to give it a listen. It’s safe to say I’ve been addicted to the band ever since! I even read the novel American Psycho which was the inspiration behind the track featuring Jacoby called Hip to Be Scared (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozOb5FcnDf4) which is definitely one of my favorites off of this album. Not only does Spencer Charnas have a gorgeous voice (& face), he is obsessed with puns & finds ways, with his bandmates, to craft truly incredible lyrics that can speak to anyone, even those of us who haven’t seen the horror movies that inspired the songs. Be sure to check out Rainy Day (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZMlDGdzysk), The Shower Scene (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGUdEZT7sGs), & Ex-Mortis (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRNs79tzxUE). My daughter loves the latter one & frequently requests “Way Below,” as she calls it.
  1. Heart & Soul by Eric Church– This is actually a triple album because Eric Church decided to spend 28 straight days writing music in a cabin in the mountains of NC during the height of Covid lockdowns. At the end of those 4 weeks, he had way too much music for just one album so he split it into 3 albums. The man is a genius, y’all! Eric Church has a good voice of course but that isn’t what makes him special- what makes him special is his lyrical genius & the way he captures emotions in the stories his songs tell. Like so much of his work, these albums get better with every listen. There are so many good tracks here, but I’ll try to simplify it to only my top favorites. Be sure to check out the brash Stick That in Your Country Song where Church addresses everything from inner city violence & gangs to unemployment- not your typical country music fare, which is of course the entire point of the song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAX5XvdKRFk). Russian Roulette (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiSCFjQUwuY), Do Side, & Break it Kind of Guy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPFVMkklguU) are also highlights. It’s worth mentioning that part of what makes this triple album so good is Church’s long-time back-up singer Joanna Cotten. Church has never been afraid to let her shine but that’s never been truer than on this venture- & that’s a good, good thing.
  1. Ruthless by Gary Allan– Generally speaking I’m not much interested in musicians who don’t write their own songs. But I make an exception for Gary Allan because his voice is just so imperfectly perfect. It has that exquisitely gruff sound that makes it perfect for singing heartbreakingly sad songs- which for some reason I really love. This album got a lot of mixed or even negative reviews but I don’t care what the experts say- I love it. Yes, there are a few lines here & there that are corny & probably could have been better written, but taken as a whole, it’s still a great piece of work. Allan has a knack for choosing songs that make us face some of our less than comfortable emotions, that make us examine the less than perfect parts of ourselves, & that’s a lot of what I like about him. Temptation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AI3LTkMqEAs) is just such a track. So is Slide (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpuRg7x6YlU). I read a review that said this was a song about a man begging to be allowed to cheat- but that isn’t how I take it at all. I take it as a song that acknowledges that none of us is perfect & if we want to have any kind of long-term relationship (romantic of otherwise), we have to accept that we’re going to fail each other or generally be less than our best selves at times. The Hard Way (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Di4EUrcyRcQ) is another great track that gets better with every listen. Lastly I want to mention Waste of a Whiskey Drink (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6fSXGLIP9w) which is actually the first song I heard from this album- & one that I immediately loved. Some have called this a misogynistic song but that isn’t how I see it at all. I see it as a song that calls out the problems with casual hook-ups & generally inauthentic relationships. Gary Allan is a heterosexual male so it only makes sense that he’d sing a song from that perspective, right? Besides, that are TONS of songs out there deriding men & all of their many faults, so let’s let the guys have their turn to air their grievances, ok? Besides, if you need a reminder that women aren’t always innocent victims, check out my previous blog post on toxic femininity. Enough said.
  1. Dearly Beloved by Daughtry– As I suspect is true for many other folks, I loved Chris Daughtry in high school & early college but hadn’t really listened to him for the past decade. However, as soon as I heard Heavy Is the Crown on Octane (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PPjXHC_NkU) I was hooked. Like many of the other albums here, this is one that I’ve appreciated more every time I’ve listened to it. One of my favorites is Asylum (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRKSb2jjg8Y) which is an incisive look at modern society, particularly in light of Covid- at least that’s how I take it. Another favorite is The Victim (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdMKMv747Qk), a super empowering song that I think we could all use these days. Also be sure to check out Changes Are Coming (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJxsvofC-p0).
  1. The Phantom Tomorrow by Black Veil Brides– Andy Biersack, being the genius that he is, has created yet another brilliant concept album. Be sure to read up on the back story to the album to fully appreciate it. My favorite tracks are Crimson Skies (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWqULtMh9lg), Scarlett Cross (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2A9Bbjlg84), & Fields of Bone (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JR37XyIXqPg). I should also mention that this is the first album with Lonny Eagleton on bass & he has definitely proved to be a more than worthy replacement for former bassist Ashley Purdy.
  1. 3rd Degree: The Raising by Gemini Syndrome– If ever there has been a band who deserves so much more attention than they get, it’s Gemini Syndrome. Lyrically these guys write some of the most profound songs every created. My favorite from this album is IDK (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wzA14GcM_k) which is a play on the texting abbreviation for I don’t know as well as the words “I decay.” Brilliant, right? Lyrically I swear the band read my mind when they wrote this song. It will probably go down as one of my all-time favorite songs ever. Other stand-out tracks include Die With Me (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_naop2VCKCM) & Abandoned (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KE4fGPelTHU).
  1. In the Court of the Dragon by Trivium– Like AA, Trivium is a band that seems to only get better with time. And like AA these guys are still only in their 30s- & yet this is Trivium’s 10th album!! As if songs like Feast of Fire (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mue8XLsKYtQ), The Phalanx (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMoOqlhC-l4), & the title song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybekW8fZHH0) weren’t killer enough, the band also created fantastic music videos to go with them. The latter could actually be called a short film. Brilliant!
  1. Death By Rock & Roll by The Pretty Reckless– This was a very difficult album for Taylor Momsen & company to make due to the death of their long-time producer & friend Kato Khandwala. However, they still managed to turn out a great album. The title song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BX6KILafIS0) is a banger with excellent guitar licks while Twenty-Five (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=As03tlODkdw) is a hauntingly beautiful piece with an equally haunting music video that showcases just how much Momsen has grown up over the past few years. Another great track is And So It Went (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9W-nlfhh8Uo) which features Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine.

Honorable Mentions

  • Servant of the Mind by Volbeat– Danish rockabilly
  • Below by Beartooth– American hardcore punk
  • You’re Welcome by A Day to Remember– American pop-punk-metalcore hybrid
  • Bullet for My Valentine by Bullet for My Valentine– Welsh heavy metal
  • You Will Be the Death of Me by Light the Torch– Metalcore super group featuring Howard Jones
  • The Ides of March by Myles Kennedy– second solo album from Alter Bridge’s vocalist

Friends’ Picks

  • Kostolom by Slaughter to Prevail– A bit heavy for my usual taste but this Russian deathcore band is definitely worth a listen if you like that kind of thing. P.S. The lyrics are in English (the guitarist is actually British).
  • Radical by Every Time I Die– Metalcore project out of Buffalo, NY
  • The Million Masks of God by Manchester Orchestra– Indie rock band from Atlanta
  • Manic by Wage War– Another metalcore band, this one from Florida
  • Happier Than Ever by Billie Eilish– I can’t say I’ve really gotten into Billie Eilish but I definitely respect her both as an artist & as a person
  • Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night by The Bleachers– An Indie pop band from NYC
  • Scaled and Icy by Twenty One Pilots- Another pop band that I can’t say I’ve gotten into but that I do actually respect

Most Anticipated Albums of 2022

  • Halestorm– If Back From the Dead (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srT0pgC_yto) is any indication, not to mention their 4 previous albums, this forthcoming album is going to ROCK.
  • Three Days Grace– I am obsessed with lead single So Called Life (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ViIny2YZH0). It’s literally been stuck in my head intermittently since the first time I heard it. It’s a banger & I hope the album will be full of similar songs. If there was still any doubt that Matt Walst can carry the band just as well or better than Adam Gontier did in their early days, this song erases it.
  • Papa Roach– Between Kill the Noise (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_90GB5T73XI) & Dying to Believe (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0s_xIEDnAw), Jacoby & company have already released 2 amazing songs that are both lyrically & musically on point for the world these days. I can’t wait to hear what else they have in store for us.
  • Fever Dream by Palaye Royale– I’m convinced that anything these 3 brothers touch turns to gold. They’re just that good. Check out Paranoid (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7J2uP7RRnfQ), Punching Bag (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WzprXZGoLs), & No Love in LA (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qePhiiz7dtc) for a taste of what’s to come. I cannot wait.
  • A Trigger Within– Irishman Jimmy Trigger (ex-fiance of Ashley from New Year’s Day) is the genius behind this up & coming LA band. His EP from a few years ago was brilliant & I can’t wait to see what this handyman (literally- that’s his full-time day job) has in store for us this year in his rock star line of work.
  • Slipknot– While I’ll probably always prefer Stone Sour over Slipknot, there is no denying the genius of Corey Taylor’s heavier project.
  • It hasn’t yet been confirmed but Swedish geniuses Avatar have released 4 new songs since their 2020 album, so I’m inclined to think they’ve got a new album in the works- I certainly hope so. All of these songs have been innovative & brilliant. Be sure to check out the haunting Going Hunting (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sQvH1LjFCw) with its lilting piano motif & the latest release Cruel & Unusual (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OH_CUc3pr84).
  • Motionless in White blessed us with a new single this year so I’m sincerely hoping that means that another album is on its way. Check out Time Bomb which includes a lot more singing from guitarist Ricky Olson (https://youtu.be/49Ln8Suk0p4) as he shares the vocals with lead singer Chris.

Do We Owe Our Spouses Sex?


At some point over the past few years since becoming a mom, I became a subscriber to the popular Mommy blog Scary Mommy. By subscriber I mean I’m on their email list- I’m certainly not paying them. Anyway, here lately I’ve noticed a preponderance of posts about how women do not owe their husbands sex. Now this is a very complicated issue that has been weighing heavily on my mind lately, probably largely because most of the posts I’ve seen on this matter strike me as particularly one-sided. In other words, they all seem to come from angry, bitter women who are over-worked, over-stressed, & appear to have a bit of a chip on their shoulders. But even that is too simple of a summarization of such a complex topic. So I thought I’d create a space where we can have a frank discussion about something that really is incredibly important both to individuals as well as to society as a whole.

Before I go any further, I recommend reading these articles so you will better understand the context for why I’m writing this. As you will discover, I am much more inclined to agree with the Huff Post article.

Stop Making Married Women Feel Bad About Not Having Sex (scarymommy.com)

Married Women Don’t Owe Sex To Their Spouse (scarymommy.com)

Do We Owe Our Spouses Sex? | HuffPost Life

Sex in America is a strange beast. One the one hand, sex is everywhere. “Sex sells,” as the old saying goes- & it’s true. Sex is either implicitly or explicitly involved in so many aspects of our culture- everything from movies to music to advertisements to video games. It’s everywhere- & yet it’s not. Because when it comes to actually TALKING about sex we are curiously silent. As parents we are so afraid of awkward discussions that we often let our kids learn about sex from everyone & everything but us- a recipe for disaster if you ask me. Our society frequently depicts sex as both wonderful & horrible all at the same time, so is it any wonder teenagers are rushing to do it to figure out what they’re missing? Furthermore, our society often depicts sex as something that magically vanishes once a couple gets married or generally settles down together. I realize that IS the case for some couples & there are very valid & legitimate reasons for this, but at the end of the day we are animals- albeit very different from other species of course. But the fact remains that sex is a biological need. It serves both physiological & psychological purposes for us- both men & women- so to act like it’s healthy or normal for sex to disappear once you’re married (or generally committed to someone long term) is, in my opinion, an extremely unhealthy concept to encourage.

Don’t marry a man like this

Now one thing I do agree with the Scary Mommy articles about is that men absolutely need to step up to help their wives around the house, especially once children come into the picture. I truly believe one reason that my husband & I have maintained such a great sex life is because he consistently does his part around the house- WITHOUT BEING ASKED. Which is exactly how it should be. Sure, once in a while I might ask him to help with something but the vast majority of the time, he just does it. And frankly I doubt I’d have married him if he weren’t like that. I for one did not get married to take care of a man child. No way, no sir, no how. That life is not for me! I married someone who is my life partner, not someone to take care of like a child. That dynamic might work for some people but it would NOT work for me. And I absolutely believe we need to do a better job of raising our boys to know that housework is not just for women. If more men stepped up to help with the laundry, dishes, etc, I can almost guarantee American sex lives would be in a better spot.

Furthermore, I 100% agree that husbands should be invested in their wives’ pleasure. If your man doesn’t care if you’re orgasming or not, you’re with the wrong man. If your husband/partner is only interested in sex for his own pleasure, trust me when I say, he ain’t “the one.” End of story.

But where I disagree with these articles is on the idea that spouses don’t owe each other sex at all. Now I’ll admit I don’t like putting it in those terms but I’m not sure how else to say it. And this whole idea that “when I got married I didn’t sign up to meet his sexual needs” just makes zero sense to me. Um, yes- yes, you did. And he signed up to meet your needs too- both sexually & otherwise! Now by NO MEANS am I saying that women should be sex slaves to their husbands who have to say yes every single time. But when you marry someone, you’re promising to meet their physical & emotional needs, & yes, sex is part of that! We are animals after all! So if you’re going months or even years without sex, something is wrong- very, very wrong (unless of course both of you are truly ok with that- but I have a hard time imagining anyone, male or female, not wanting sex for that long- but maybe that’s just me). Anyway, the point is that while I very much believe that each person owns their own body & should not be FORCED into anything, at the same time, being married DOES mean you’ve promised to meet each other’s needs. This obviously applies to men too. I have read posts & articles with wives complaining that their husbands never want sex anymore & how hurtful that is to them. So for sure this goes BOTH ways.

Anyone who has analyzed divorce data even a tiny bit knows that a lack of sex is almost always involved. Have you ever wondered why that is? I suspect it’s because a lack of sex is usually symptomatic of a greater problem in a marriage. If you aren’t having sex, I have to wonder if you’re really emotionally close to one another. Now obviously there are exceptions here- people undergoing chemotherapy, women who’ve endured very traumatic childbirth, etc. But those are the exceptions, not the rule. My husband & I have always said that one reason we prioritize sex is because we can never be but so mad at each other if we’re having sex regularly. I know we are very different than a lot of people but I suspect that is true for most folks. Sex is an emotional experience for everyone, not just women, so it’s hard to do it regularly with someone & not have a good emotional connection with that person.

Lastly, when I read these Scary Mommy articles & ones like it, I can’t help but feel that these women are saying “men are so selfish & only care about themselves & their desires.” (Now I’m sure that’s true for some men- don’t marry that type!) BUT it also feels to me like these authors are also being quite selfish & saying they only care about their own needs & desires. Maybe I’m old school but two wrongs don’t make a right. As far as I’m concerned it is not healthy for anyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, to consistently deny their partner sex for ages on end (exceptional circumstances notwithstanding of course). That’s just setting your relationship up to fail, if you ask me. It’s setting both of you up to be miserable, to communicate poorly, & to resent each other.

Now I’m no expert, no sex therapist or guru or what have you. I’m just a normal 30-something wife & mom who enjoys dissecting difficult topics & discussing things most people would rather sweep under the rug. I in no way think that I’m a perfect wife, that my husband is perfect, that our relationship is perfect, or that I/we have all the answers. But I am saddened to see that the narrative on this subject seems to be mostly dominated by women who seem to have such a negative view of sex. I have to wonder if they just haven’t had good sex… Was that a sexist statement? Hmmm… Now I’m not saying there haven’t been times in my life, mostly in the first year or so of our daughter’s life when I was breastfeeding, that I didn’t feel particularly in the mood. Certainly there have been. But you know what? We found ways to make it work. I value my own sexuality, I value my husband & our relationship, & like anything else in life worth having, our sex life was/is worth fighting for.

The purpose of this post is not to make anyone feel guilty. And the purpose is certainly not to brag about my own sex life. But I think this is a very important subject that usually either isn’t addressed or is only addressed very one-sidedly. Of course the women writing those Scary Mommy articles probably argue that this subject used to only be addressed with men’s needs/desires in mind. And that is probably true. But again, two wrongs don’t make a right. We aren’t going to better our society by treating men like trash. That just isn’t the path to progress. We need to have an open dialogue about touchy subjects like this (pun very much intended). We need to communicate clearly with our spouses about everything, including of course sex. And that kind of open dialogue needs to happen long before someone becomes your spouse! I personally think sex before marriage is quite necessary to ensure that people are compatible. I know that goes against everything I was taught growing up, but nonetheless I truly believe it. Now I also believe that if people have a strong emotional connection the chances are very good that they will have a strong physical connection too. But sex is way too important to leave to chance, if you ask me.

I’m sure there’s an angry feminist somewhere reading this & screaming that I’m condoning marital rape. Let me assure you that I am not. But I also think we need to be honest with ourselves & admit that denying a partner sex consistently is not healthy. When it comes down to it, you’re denying YOURSELF pleasure too. Ask any sex “expert” & they’ll tell you that “sex begets sex.” There are times when it may not be perfect or the most romantic experience of your life, but if you stay off the horse forever you’ll never get back to the great rides you remember from the past (pun intended once again).

So, did I answer the question in the title of this post? I’m not sure. Even if I did, I suspect the answer will be different for everyone- & that’s fine. But it’s something you better be sure to communicate clearly with your own partner.

I’d love to hear others’ opinions on this matter. It’s always possible I’m just crazy. But I truly believe this is an important discussion that needs to be addressed from all angles- which in my experience is not being done.

Disclosure: if you’ve experienced rape or sexual assault, I realize your experiences may be vastly different, & this post may not be very relevant for you. I can only speak to my own experiences. If this article feels tone deaf, I apologize.

P.S. Feel free to private message me your thoughts if you aren’t comfortable discussing this in a public forum. I totally understand that.

P.P.S. I just looked at my phone & I had a notification from YouTube that one of my favorite country singers (Gary Allan) just posted a song called Sex. And yes, it is about sex. It even addresses the fact that our society is obsessed with sex & yet we don’t like to talk about it. Talk about timing….

I Get Off On the Pain


This post might be a little all over the place but I’m going to try to knock it out the best I can while Rachel is doing her afternoon “quiet time” (since she no longer naps). I’ve recently been reminded over & over again, because of the whole Covid situation as well as the upcoming election, among other things, of how incredibly frustrating it is to me that so many folks are frankly so one-dimensional. As I told one of my best friends recently, I am continually disappointed in how completely predictable so many people are. When I find those rare jewels of people whose opinions I cannot accurately predict on most every subject, I smile & retain at least a little hope for humanity. I’m not asking for everyone to agree with me on everything. What a boring world that would be! I just wish that more people weren’t so damn predictable!

I am often reminded of the Walt Whitman quote “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” I love that quote because to me it encapsulates the complexity of the human experience & how we are all at times hypocrites because we all contain so many complex emotions & ideals that often contradict each other. And that is ok- that is what makes us alive- & interesting!

I just wish more people realized that we don’t have to fit into the neat little boxes in which society tries to place us. And even if we do choose to align ourselves with certain groups, we aren’t obliged to always agree with those groups on every single issue. We can be individuals- we don’t have to have a herd mentality!

For example:

You can ascribe to most aspects of “gentle parenting” even if you don’t co-sleep, breastfeed for extended periods, baby-wear constantly, home-school, or partake in a vegetarian/vegan diet.

You can ascribe to a lot of moral ideas without actually being religious.

You can 100% support the concept of black lives matter without supporting the actual organization of the same name.

You can have tattoos &/or piercings &/or “crazy hair” & still have a professional job & be just as great at it as someone who looks more traditional.

You can love rock/metal music & not have any tattoos or piercings or dress in all black & that doesn’t make you any less of a “real” fan.

You can abhor gun violence but still staunchly support the 2nd Amendment.

Caring about the poor does not have to equate to being a socialist (or communist).

You can abhor drugs but still believe they should be legal.

Just because you don’t support a ton of government welfare programs does not mean that you don’t care about the poor or believe in helping them. (Government, after all, isn’t the only means for helping people. It’s often the least efficient method, but that’s a post for another day.)

Being a Democrat does not automatically make you anti-racist & being a Republican or Libertarian does not automatically make you racist.

Believing in the importance of the nuclear family does not mean you do not support other less “traditional” family structures.

You can believe that men & women are equal while acknowledging our differences & not seeking to tear down the opposite gender.

You can support the legalization of prostitution (for adults only, obviously!) while still believing that sex is best in the context of a committed, loving relationship.

You can support free speech & the right for women to say or do anything they please but still find Cardi B’s WAP to be straight trash. (Guess her WAP wasn’t so great after all, seeing as she is getting divorced due to her husband’s infidelity… Yep, I’m probably a bad person for laughing about that…)

How do I know all of these things are possible? Well, for the most part, I just described myself…

On a seemingly unrelated note, I have recently rediscovered my love for country music artist Gary Allan. I guess I never truly forgot about him but I haven’t listened to country radio in YEARS so he’d just kind of fallen off my radar since the only country singer I religiously follow is Eric Church. In any case, YouTube recommended Gary’s new song Waste of a Whiskey Drink a week or two ago & I’ve been hooked ever since. You could quite fairly call the song cynical & I’m sure there are some angry hard core feminists out there decrying it as the epitome of sexism, but I don’t care because I think you could reverse the genders in the song & it would be equally accurate.

Anyhow, that song led me to listen to a bunch of Gary Allan’s older songs, some of which I’ve known & loved for years like Watching Airplanes & his cover of Best I Ever Had. But I also came across a lot of others that I either never knew or had forgotten. May I just say that this man’s gravelly voice is perfectly suited to that particular brand of melancholy that only country songs can elicit? Off the top of my head three excellent examples of this are Today, Smoke Rings in the Dark, & It Ain’t the Whiskey.

Of course this post isn’t about country music or even my love for Gary Allan, though I could certainly do an entire post about him someday. But for some reason I felt compelled to explain the wormhole that led me to rediscover his song Get Off on the Pain & how that song seems to perfectly encapsulate what I’m trying to explain here today. Now superficially the song probably doesn’t seem to relate to my life very much- I’m not a man, a traveling musician, or someone who’s been in a bunch of bad relationships- but if you think about the broader meaning of the song I can relate to it in so many ways.

Because I am the “crazy Libertarian” that I am, I find myself constantly being told that I’m wrong, crazy, heathen, don’t care about others, & a lot of other things that I generally don’t believe are true. I frequently long to have a greater sense of belonging but any organized group I’ve ever belonged to has left me dissatisfied sooner or later. The truth of the matter is, like the song says, I think I get off on the pain. As much as I sometimes long to be more content with life, to not question things so much, to be more accepted by society, at the end of the day I don’t think I’d be happy that way. I’ve always been a bit of an outsider & that’s the way I think I’ll always be. It isn’t always an easy road to take but it’s the only one I’ve ever really known & it’s the one I’m going to keep on walking as long as I can.

P.S. I apologize for not including the YouTube links to the songs mentioned in this post like I normally do but WordPress has changed its blogging format & I’m still trying to figure out how to add links to posts. I never said I was tech savvy…

P.S.S. If this post seems to have lost steam half way through it’s because Rachel left her room & has been interrupting me constantly… #momlife

Things I Learned From Country Music


For those of you who don’t know, I am a huge music nerd.  I listen to music almost constantly & firmly believe everything in life is better with musical accompaniment.  I love all kinds of music though I usually spend more time listening to rock than any other genre.  However, I go through spells a couple times of year when I also listen to a lot of country music.  I suppose that is somewhat inevitable when you live in the South & grew up in a small town.  This past weekend I got a notion that I should try out a short blog series featuring “things I’ve learned from such & such genre of music.”  Since I’ve been on a country kick lately, I decided to start with country music.  It was hard for me to choose only a handful of songs that have great meaning to me, but I don’t want these posts to be ridiculously long so I limited myself to five songs.  I’m going to attempt to write one of these posts for every major genre of music (though I’ll admit rap might not happen but I will give it my best effort).  For those of you who think country music is only about wearing cowboy boots, fishing, skinny-dipping, or drinking beer, please check out the songs listed below which I hope will serve to broaden your horizons a bit.  I have conveniently included YouTube links to each song because I am awesome like that.  😉

follow your arrow

  • Follow Your Arrow by Kacey Musgraves

    • No matter what you do, there will always be naysayers & one of the greatest lessons in life is that you truly cannot please everyone. Thus it’s better to just do what you know in your heart is right for you because at the end of the day you are the one who has to answer to yourself for your own life. I think in small towns this sentiment is especially true because everybody knows each other so rumours & gossip can start & spread so easily. I like how Kacey points out that life is often viewed in extremes; for example, “If you save yourself for marriage, you’re a bore/if you don’t save yourself for marriage, you’re a whore-able person” (great play on the word horrible, isn’t that?) when in reality the truth often falls somewhere in between such extremes.  And, yes, this is probably one of the only country music songs to ever openly support gay rights, which I love.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kg4YdXUaCg0 P.S. This entire album is AMAZING & you would never guess that Kacey is a mere 25 years old. Her song-writing skills & insight into life are superior to many who are two or three times her age. Even if you don’t usually like country music, I beg you to look up Kacey Musgraves on YouTube & give her songs a listen. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

  • I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack

    • This is one of those classic songs that just never gets old because it’s so beautifully written & the message is one that bears repeating. This song reflects on the importance of never losing the wonder of being alive whether it be standing in awe at the sight of the ocean, dancing every chance you get, or learning that love sometimes hurts but it’s worth the chance. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RV-Z1YwaOiw

  • Bleed Red by Ronnie Dunn

    • This is one of the most powerful songs I’ve ever heard. The message is so simple but so beautiful: we are all human beings with struggles, scars, fears, hopes, & dreams trying to make the best of our lives. We all make mistakes & need forgiveness from time to time. At the end of the day despite differences in race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, or any other “external” factor at our deepest core we are all the same: “We all bleed red.” If every one of us took this song to heart every day of our lives I’m quite certain we could end (or perhaps even avoid) a lot of conflicts, including everything from squabbles between husbands & wives to international wars. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AMcwxAug1Q

  • Life Ain’t Always Beautiful by Gary Allan

    • Gary Allan’s rough voice adds to the magic of this song for me because it seems to perfectly match with the message of the song: “Life ain’t always beautiful but it’s a beautiful ride.” Truer words have never been spoken for indeed life is often difficult, challenging, & scary but in the end it’s still a fascinating, wonderful journey & the hard times really do make us stronger & wiser. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VDNMtn0t2A

  • I Drive Your Truck by Lee Brice

    • The best way I can describe this song is achingly beautiful. I heard it for the first time as I was driving into Appomattox on 460 for my dear uncle Robert’s funeral. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The song is written from the perspective of someone who lost a soldier friend but the feelings behind it are applicable to anyone who has suffered the loss of a close friend or family member. I love that the song addresses both the pain of such a loss as well as the anger that we all experience as we beg God/the universe why it happened because no matter the circumstances death is never easy for those left behind. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCSMCgqlc-0