The Music of My Grief

I really don’t like YouTube’s algorithms. The reasons behind that are many and, to be honest, they really have nothing to do with today’s thoughts. But, as I type that, I can’t help but think they actually might. Stay with me here for a minute….this one could stray all over the map.

First of all, music has always surrounded me in one way or another. From Mom’s piano playing growing up, to me playing drums from the 6th grade on, to me somehow ending up as the sound guy for a Christian rock band in the ‘90’s and continuing to be the guy behind the sound board countless times since. My drums and “vintage” sound board still fill a large portion of one room of the house. A section of my shop still holds the speaker stacks from the band days. My living room is decorated with antique musical/sound/home entertainment “stuff”. Music, in one way or another, still surrounds me even though all of them have laid mostly dormant for years now. (for a variety of reasons)

With all that being said, it is no surprise, really, that my YouTube feed would naturally contain stuff concerning music, intermixed with restoring cars, racing, aviation, machinist stuff, and the occasional off-grid living or homesteading stuff. It is the stuff I watch or seek out.

None of that really bothers me about the YouTube algorithm……..that’s how I’d expect it to work. It is when it gets intensely personal that it bothers me.

Warning: if you click any of these links, your YouTube feed will be affected and similar songs may pop up at random. I’ll also warn you that these are all trigger songs for me……….so they may be for some of you as well.

The first time it “got personal” was by popping up “Give Heaven Some Hell” by Hardy a couple of years ago. It is one of my trigger songs. It always will be. I first heard it at T.J.’s memorial service. It fit. It still fits. And it still hurts. HARDY – Give Heaven Some Hell (Official Music Video) – YouTubeIt still pops up occasionally, and I will watch it again occasionally, along with any number of other Hardy’s songs.

Things rocked along just fine for a time, with only Hardy popping up occasionally for a random gut-punch. Then Craig Morgan’s “The Father, My Son, and the Holy Ghost” popped up awhile back. Craig Morgan – “The Father, My Son and The Holy Ghost” | Live at the Opry | Opry – YouTube As you can probably guess, it still pops up occasionally.

By this time, you’d think I would know to expect it, but of course I wasn’t when YouTube swung the emotional baseball bat again a couple of weeks ago with “When Tomorrow Starts Without Me” by Trey Pendley. When Tomorrow Starts Without Me- Trey Pendley featuring Lexi Pendley – YouTube  It is probably good that I didn’t hear it for the first time while I was driving home from work or on a crowded interstate somewhere. I was alone, in my living room, and free to just feel it. Thankfully. Maybe I didn’t know I needed it.

Then, last night, after watching DIRTRACKR Daily and JoDaddy’s Garage’s latest videos, then scrolling past a few TMezTV videos, and a couple of  random oil filter testing videos, “Beat You There” by Will Dempsey popped up. Beat You There | Will Dempsey (Official Video) – YouTubeYou’d think, again, that I would know not to click on these when I know their potential. But, the idiot that I am can’t resist. So………another swing and another direct hit.

So yeah, YouTube’s algorithms got personal. There are elements in the lyrics of all of these that fit the narrative of my life and/or T.J.’s life………..and subsequently my life in grief…..that are all intensely personal and hit way too close to home. It is what music is. It is what music does. It is every music writer’s dream to find those lyrics and that melody that carry us “there”. Wherever “there” may be. Hardy carries me various places. A 4X4 truck along a dirt levee or a muddy 10 acre field. A “Blue Jean and Carhartt” memorial service because we knew T.J. wouldn’t want the suit and tie thing. Craig takes me to the porch with a cup of coffee, trying to find the energy and ambition to take the day’s steps forward. Trey brings up memories of making the phone calls or picturing T.J.’s kids as they heard the news. (and SO many other places that each take me every time)

That all brings me to last night, and Will’s song popping up. Racing in general has always been a thing around our house. I’ve been watching or participating in various forms of racing my entire adult life. From driving a dumpy old mini-stock on a local track to being in the pits for the Indy 500, it is the part of my life that T.J. aspired to achieve. And he could have done all of that and then some. There’s also another element. Whether it was running in the back yard when the kids were young or the teenage T.J. thinking he was finally a faster runner than “the old man” and finding out he still wasn’t (that day), his goal was to run with me………and beat me.

He won.

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