Review Summary: Part 1: I'm getting there
In Fall 2015, I transferred colleges.
I moved from my quiet suburban village to a nice big noisy city filled with… people.
People I didn’t know. Regardless of the issues I had with anxiety in the past, I was really looking forward to this change. No longer did I have to drive 25+ minutes in any direction to do something fun. My mind ran wild and I thought everything could be new and exciting.
The first day I moved in, I took a walk on a trail next to where I was living at the time. It was a gorgeous day, and I was listening to one of the best albums you can listen to on a gorgeous day: No One Gets Lost Anymore
by The Smith Street Band. I remember starting this walk, listening to those first chords of “I Ain’t Safe”, thinking about how I’ve never felt this optimistic about a change in my life. Most of the anxiety I’ve experienced, much like Wil Wagner, has come from being faced with unfamiliar situations. Helplessly possessing constant thoughts of “Am I handling this right? What do other people do? Is what I’m doing working?” No. None of that plagued my mind.
It wasn’t 20 seconds into “Postcodes” when a group of 4 males jumped from the bushes, punched me in the face, pinned me to the trail, and jabbed their disgusting hands into my pockets to retrieve my wallet, my phone, and, most tragically… my now-short-lived optimism. I was scared again. I felt anxious going outside at all. I couldn’t even look out the window, because it had a perfect view of that trail.
“Everyone needs a little shock sometimes.”
It might be weird to listen to the album that you were listening to during a traumatic experience for a week straight after, but that’s exactly what I did. I stayed inside and I listened to No One Gets Lost Anymore.
I was faced with an unfamiliar situation, and Wil knew all too well how it felt. For that week of my life, this was the
best album. I listened to Wil croon and shout over clean guitars about his inability to feel welcome in this world, his inability to belong. You can hear the frustration in his voice at times of how he just does not understand why the things in his life are the way they are… why he’s wired the way he is.
Wil wants you to understand what goes on in his mind, and he makes it as easy as he possibly can through his music. Many of the songs on this album consist of stream-of-consciousness thoughts that are only interrupted by the occasional rose-colored anecdote detailing the innocence of his childhood, or a story of how hooking up with a stranger, within the context of the current state of his life, is a grand feat. I listened to "When I Was A Boy I Thought I Was A Fish" the most during that time in my life, since it reminded me of my own wide-eyed self, both my adolescent self as well as myself from the day before I moved to the city.
Like many of us, he may have issues expressing his feelings to those around him, but maybe, just maybe, if he puts it in song form with a catchy chorus, people will understand. Wil sings about what he knows, but what makes him special as a songwriter is that he also writes about what he knows he will never understand about life.
I didn’t feel safe in Fall 2015, but neither did Wil Wagner in 2011.
So it’s okay.