While perusing the excellent selection of music stocked at the Burbank Public Library, I happened upon Sugarland’s Love on the Inside misplaced next to Keith Urban’s 18 Kids greatest hits compilation. My trip to the library was motivated by searching out some of Urban’s music, but I decided to pick up the latest Sugarland album as well. I know very little about this group other than they are a duo, Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush, and that I saw a fun video of theirs on YouTube last year. Other than that, the only distinction that Sugarland has in my household is that Nettles’ mannerisms when singing kind of bug Julie. Based solely on the appeal of that video and whatever is hardwired in my brain to prove to my wife that she may actually like Sugarland, I brought home Love on the Inside to share. Without telling anyone I placed the album in the old compact disc player and pressed play.
The instant “All I Want to Do” began, Julie came shimmying down the hallway with a broad smile on her face immediately singing along with the catchy chorus.
“Who is this?” She asked.
“Sugarland. You know, with that lady from the Obama inaugural concert.”
“I like this.”
She smirked, “As long as I don’t have to watch her sing.”
The two of us laughed and the album became an instant classic in our household. Each song has a wonderful hook and a perfect blend of country twang and pop sensibilities. Nettles and Bush sing wonderful harmony together and their music is performed with great passion and care.
Soon enough, Sophie was singing along, too, while Jacob bounced his feet to the rhythm of the beat as he colored Teen Titans pictures at the kitchen table. While he rolled his eyes in mock protest when Jules started the song over, he sure was listening to the lyrics closely. I didn’t have an answer to his question, “How can you talk without saying words?”
While “All I Want to Do” is rooted in our present lives, the mood takes me back to place 15 years ago, when Jules and I were newlyweds, lounging around on our weekend mornings with nothing to do but figure out when to get out of bed. What a carefree, wonderful period that was. Still, I’d never return to those days, not with the life we have now. Maybe these times aren’t the easiest, but we’re together; we’re a family.
Each year, as school is ending and summer waits anxiously around the corner, some song or CD seems to capture the moment and set the tone for the rest of the season. This past academic year was not the easiest as we dealt with job issues, health issues and financial issues. Yet we continue to persevere. Although we’re nowhere near out of the woods, I’m surprisingly calm about the uncertainty that lies ahead. I could crumble under the pressure of trying to figure how we’ll pull through it all, but some outside force keeps my fears at bay. Hope? Blind optimism? Faith? I’m unsure.
I continue to pull strength and comfort from the family. Each time Jacob rushes to the door to give me a hug when I arrive home, I find comfort. Each time Sophie and I share one of our bedtime conversations in which she speaks in one long breathless sentence going over the minute details of every minute of her day, I find comfort. And each time I kiss Julie and she gives me a mock “peace out” sign before heading to bed, I find comfort. It’s the little things that make up a family, the little things mixed with big emotions. That’s what Love on the Inside captures. Little details in the lyrics that are insightful and succinct mixed with big melodies that have a great deal of heart and soul.
What “All I Want to Do” has given me for the rest of my life is the memory of Sophie singing, “All I want to do-oo-oo-oo-oo,” Jacob performing perfect Pete Townshend windmills, and the lovely sight of my wife shaking her hips to the music.
Thank you, Keith Urban, for inspiring me to go to the library to look for your music (I liked 18 Kids, by the way). Thank you mysterious patron of the Burbank Library for being irresponsible and filing Love on the Inside under “U” in the CD section. Thank you Sugarland for creating the music that will carry us through the coming summer. And thank you Sophie, Jacob and Julie for always giving me inspiration, hope and love.
Happy summer, everyone!