I can’t explain my fascination with groups like Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers, and The Lumineers. This “Newgrass” (my made up term for the new wave of bluegrass and folk) is something that falls way outside my wheelhouse musically speaking. I’ve never really liked the style. In fact, most music that has that certain Southern edge has always made my skin crawl. Except for country music. That’s less of a “skin crawl” feeling and more of a “I wish I could rip my arm off so I’d have something to hit myself with” kind of feeling.
Yet despite my strong dislike for country and twangy music, I can’t get enough of these groups and their music.
Last night, I had the opportunity to take my wife to see the Avett Brothers live in concert and it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. The energy of Scott and Seth Avett is incredible as is their apparent passion for the music they play. Banjos rockin’, foot stompin’, rootin’ tootin’ music and I was in awe all night. I even remember thinking a couple of times “What am I doing here? This isn’t me.”
While I keep finding myself getting into the head rocking swing of their music the thing that I find most irresistible about these these groups is the content of their music. They’re not about a lot of excessive living, doing whatever makes you happy, trying to get all the money, or any other obnoxious musical cliche. Instead, they often sing songs with straightforward lyrics about the basic loves and passions of life.
Love for that special someone, love for family, and in an earnest moment of transparency – love for a brother.
And that was refreshing. Here’s my favorite Avett Brothers song. It’s not really the most typical song of theirs but this has a deep spiritual vibe for me. In “The Ballad of Love and Hate” I see the character of Love being God’s love, grace, and mercy. I also see in this story the rebellious, stand offish, and often spiteful Hate in my own soul.
Here’s a performance of the Avett Brothers playing “The Ballad of Love and Hate”.
Love writes a letter and sends it to hate.
My vacations ending. I’m coming home late.
The weather was fine and the ocean was great
and I can’t wait to see you again.
Hate reads the letter and throws it away.
“No one here cares if you go or you stay.
I barely even noticed that you were away.
I’ll see you or I won’t, whatever.”
Love sings a song as she sails through the sky.
The water looks bluer through her pretty eyes.
And everyone knows it whenever she flies,
and also when she comes down.
Hate keeps his head up and walks through the street.
Every stranger and drifter he greets.
And shakes hands with every loner he meets
with a serious look on his face.
Love arrives safely with suitcase in tow.
Carrying with her the good things we know.
A reason to live and a reason to grow.
To trust. To hope. To care.
Hate sits alone on the hood of his car.
Without much regard to the moon or the stars.
Lazily killing the last of a jar
of the strongest stuff you can drink.
Love takes a taxi, a young man drives.
As soon as he sees her, hope fills his eyes.
But tears follow after, at the end of the ride,
cause he might never see her again.
Hate gets home lucky to still be alive.
He screams o’er the sidewalk and into the drive.
The clock in the kitchen says 2:55,
And the clock in the kitchen is slow.
Love has been waiting, patient and kind.
Just wanting a phone call or some kind of sign,
That the one that she cares for, who’s out of his mind,
Will make it back safe to her arms.
Hate stumbles forward and leans in the door.
Weary head hung, eyes to the floor.
He says “Love, I’m sorry”, and she says, “What for?
I’m your and that’s it, Whatever.
I should not have been gone for so long.
I’m your’s and that’s it, forever.”
You’re mine and that’s it, forever.