Saturday, April 1, 2017

Mindfulness Themes in Brian Fallon's "Painkillers"

     This album came out during a pretty weird time in my life, and I ruined it for myself a bit by listening to it constantly for several weeks... I didn’t know it then, but I think part of the reason it had such an impact on me was because it introduced many ideas I would learn about later through mindfulness.
     For Brian Fallon, Painkillers came on the heels of not only the breakup of his band The Gaslight Anthem, but also the divorce of his wife of ten years. Given this context, Fallon sounds remarkably content and at-peace on the record. I think he accomplishes this by maintaining a perspective just outside himself for much of the album. He sings past-tense love songs of loss, regret, and mistakes like he’s flipping through old photo albums. On Nobody Wins he likens a past relationship to a “past life”. While allowing nostalgia to surface, Fallon remains keenly aware that it is a feeling for his recollection of the time. It exists entirely as a jumble of memories, an experience entirely of his own mind’s creation. And just like that, he lets it go ("If I never see you again/You can blame it on the wind"). Throughout the album he makes no judgement of himself or his circumstances, only an acceptance of the perpetual ebb and flow of life. On earlier Gaslight records he may have clung desperately to burning bridges or let himself bleed out in grief. Instead he sits back, aware of his scars but forgetting about them under the warmth of the present moment.
     Conveyed lyrically, this all carries the risk of coming off as amateurish zen-posturing. Thankfully, in the hands of a singer-songwriter as relatable and genuine as Brian Fallon it never feels less than authentic. This is an album about learning to smile at the world in the face of vulnerability and uncertainty. That’s all mindfulness really is in the first place.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Online Marketing
Add blog to our blog directory.