The following and all of the other episodes to come are snapshots of what goes on in my head, now and in the past. There are times none of this will make sense. There will be times when I might get lucky and the blog I post will be well constructed and will flow like a mountain stream to an awaiting lake below. Other times it will seem like the ramblings of a madman and you’ll ask yourself, “What the……?”
You should probably get used to the latter.
SPECIAL EDITION: LULLABY – WHY ANNA NALICK IS MY FAVORITE FEMALE SINGER
Anna Nalick is more than just a singer from California, she helped me put one foot in front of the other in more ways than one.
Let me tell you a little backstory…
The first time I remember hearing her was driving in my car on a Saturday, quite a few years ago. If I remember correctly, it was sunny and the sky was blue. It was one of those perfect weather days. Since my CD player was on the fritz, I was switching FM channels to find something to go with my attitude (pleasant) and the outside world (tolerable due to the weather). I stumbled upon a song that had a beautiful voice and a song about it being ‘2 AM and she calls me ’cause I’m still awake…‘
There are songs and the people who sing those songs that seem to be singing to you. You hear them once in a blue moon. I was having one of those moments. I listened to the whole song and as luck would have it, the DJ just happened to tell me who the singer was.
And the song was called Breathe (2AM).
I could not get that song out of my head, what I could remember, anyway. I had to have it. Well, this happened to be a time when they still had music stores that sold CD’s, though they were starting to die. The day after payday, I went to one of these stores and found Anna’s CD. But, unfortunately, the CD player in my car was still nonworking, so I had to rely on my portable CD player. Driving with headphones on and maybe breaking a law, I listened to her CD Wreck of the Day over and over. Her music spoke to me like few ever have.
Cut to years later. Anna’s CD that I had bought had seen better days. The case, cracked and broken, still held an almost scratchless CD. At times, I would pull it out and listen in the newer Jeep with a working CD player.
Up until this moment, she was somebody I loved to listen to. She was mixed in with other artists that I listened to, each taking their time in the CD player as I drove here and there.
It wasn’t until the depression set in and set up shop in my brain Anna became more than an awesome singer.
Again, some backstory…
I have always had depression. When I hit my forties, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized one day that I had become a big, fat slob and I was hurting all of the time, mentally and physically. It all came to the forefront after I saw a picture of myself at a party for my dad. He turned 80 and a picture was taken as I sat beside him. When I saw it, I saw how big I was. It was a wake-up call. I knew life had to change.
So, at the beginning of the new year, I started to diet and then I started to run. Short distances at first ( a few hundred feet). But as time went on, I could run a mile, then two, then I was running a 5K every time I went out. Then five miles became my minimal. I was burning more than I was taking in due to a strict diet. I was feeling good.
As I ran, I took my iPod with me. One of those small, silver 8gig square ones. I would load it up with music like Metallic, AC/DC, and Foo Fighters, all heavy stuff. Except for some Foo Fighters (The Pretender, Everlong), the heavier stuff wasn’t working. I would run to the beat and it was wearing me out.
As I sat in front of my computer going over what I wanted to try, I saw Wreck of the Day. I decided to give that a try.
When I went out the next time and after warming up, I began my run and hit play on my iPod. The piano and then Anna’s voice from Breathe (2AM) streamed into my ears. As the miles rolled by, I listened to the whole album and when it came to the end, I started it again from the very beginning.
You see, those feelings she made me feel wasn’t just from driving in my car, it was for driving me, driving me forward. Every step I took and with every mile, Anna was with me, rooting me on. And when she sings the song ‘In My Head‘ and sings the lyrics ‘I‘ll take you away in the way that you take me and go where I go…’ I felt like she was there in my head, my stereo muse. I know that she meant the lyrics in another way but in my head, running and needing things to hang onto as I pushed myself further, it took on a different meaning to me.
Yes, she was there always on my iPod. I was listening to Wreck of the Day or her second album Broken Doll & Odds & Ends. Her version of Siouxsie & the Banshees’ Kiss Them For Me is amazing. Some days I would listen to only her.
In an odd way, I felt like she was there running with me or just floating nearby keeping me company.
I had lost weight (more than 60 pounds) and found myself in the best health of my life. I was sleeping good, feeling good, eating well, and keeping stress and depression at bay.
But something happened. I let it back in. I’m not sure why or how but I heard the knock at the door and opened it without shutting it back. Depression and anxiety came in and stayed.
The running became less frequent. I had been running four or five times a week, five or six miles each time. Then it was four times a week to two to every other week, then… nothing. Junk food that had once been banished from the house was finding a place in the cabinets. The amounts of food I was taking in became more and more. The next thing I knew, the clothes I had fought to get into were too small and finding their way into boxes for Goodwill. In three years, I was back where I had started plus some.
The iPod became a permanent resident in a drawer only to be brought out when I wanted to listen to some music at work.
I rarely listened to Anna after that.
Like I said, I felt like she was there by me as I ran. Though she wasn’t (maybe in spirit), I felt like I let her down and I was embarrassed. Odd as that sounds. She helped inspire me and I let that inspiration die.
In life, when something goes away, from our own fault or from no fault of your own, you end of replacing it with something. I replaced my dedication to running with writing. I’ve been writing since I was in middle school but I didn’t become serious about it until almost three years ago. I started to write this blog and all of it starting flooding out. If I could have run the way I write, I would have run a marathon a day. And when I write, I crave inspiration, some days more than others. When I ran, my mind would open and I was able to think thoughts that were clear and absorbent. When I write, I need my mind to be the same way. I would grab my little silver iPod and listen to music that made me reminded me of running. On that iPod, was Anna Nalick. Her words would help bring back those feelings of unconstrained freedom. I could actually feel myself bring more air into my lungs like when I had been putting feet to trail or road. My mind would clear and I could become more receivable of ideas.
Yes, it’s true there is other music that I listened to on the runs that help me but none of those help me as much as hearing her sing into my ear. None of the other musicians ‘ran’ with me and accompanied me along those miles I ran.
She still runs with me.
As of this moment and as I write about how Anna kept me company without her knowing, I’m thinking about the stories and blog posts that I’m working on and the ones yet started. And I’m thinking about lacing up my shoes again and hitting the trails to get back to where I was, physically and mentally. And when I do, I now have more Anna Nalick to go with me. Last year, she released a new album, At Now. This gives me more of her voice to carry me through the rough sentences and the rough miles. She will be ever pushing me onward, encouraging me to keep putting my best word and foot forward. She’ll be keeping in step alongside me.
Anna, I just want you to know the impact you have put into my life, the positive impact. Keep writing, keep singing, never give up.
If you don’t, I won’t.
-Loyd Elmore Jr
June 19th, 2018
I’ve decided to keep a blog about how I’m dealing with depression. I’m going to consider this a form of therapy. It might not help anybody else but it might help me.