Amos Lee on Reliving the Pain

19 Mar

“The emotional situation is passed, but I have to relive it every night for you guys.” -Amos Lee

One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to see more live music, and one of the musicians I most wanted to see was Amos Lee, so when I saw that he was playing at The Bell House, a small, intimate venue in my very own neighborhood, I jumped on it and got a ticket right away.

Last night as I got ready for the concert, I was feeling tired and sad, had a headache, and was not particularly energized or enthusiastic, but I popped two Tylenol, drank coconut water to replenish my electrolytes, and pushed myself to go because I knew that I would feel better once I got there, and I did.  Standing with my friends a few feet from the stage listening to Amos Lee sing, I looked up at the high wooden mountain-lodge-like ceiling, the chandeliers hanging down rocking slightly, the dust swirling in the spotlights, and I was pulled out of my melancholy mood.

I was just kind of soaking in the whole atmosphere, when Amos said with a smile, “The funny thing is, the emotional situation is passed, but I have to relive it every night for you guys,” and I looked back onstage and paid extra-close attention as he launched into singing “Careless” in a way that felt like he was pouring his whole soul into it, and really was reliving something heartbreaking in that moment.

A large part of why I was feeling sad last night was that I’ve been writing something that is incredibly painful for me.  It is a tricky thing, because it’s very sticky – writing about it pulls me in and it is so not easy to get out, even after I’ve stopped writing.  And though I love writing and feel compelled to tell my stories, sometimes I question why I am doing this and putting myself through this torture, and think that I’d be a lot happier if I wasn’t.  After all, the emotional situation is passed.  I don’t have to still feel this pain.  It would certainly be easier if I didn’t.  Why not just leave those painful times far far behind me and never look back?

But hearing Amos Lee say those words and then sing that song was the reminder I needed about why.  Why anyone would choose to relive their pain, and transform it into something else, something that reaches out to connect with other people.  Because even if I haven’t had the exact same experiences as him, I know that feeling.  And writing and singing and reading and listening can make us all, at different times, and in different ways, feel less alone.  And that is why.

So when he’s singing, or when you want to write about a difficult time, there’s no getting around it.  We have to dip way down into that pain, just immerse ourselves in it and feel it and relive it, so we can transform it into something else – a song or a passage or a picture.  And then just do the best we can to untangle ourselves from it and come back out to where we are today.  It’s Friday, March 19th, 2010.  It is 68 degrees and sunny in Brooklyn, NY.  I saw an amazing Amos Lee concert last night.  The emotional situation is passed…

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One Response to “Amos Lee on Reliving the Pain”

  1. Nicdawg March 22, 2010 at 8:26 pm #

    It’s funny (read: weird) to me how looking at the same situation, or set of circumstances with different lenses, can make all the difference. And how you can only let the emotions of a situation go once you change the way you’re looking at it. Nothing else has changed, but you choose to look at something differently and there it goes.

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