Trying To Be Free is already my most successful song ever by many measures. On its first day the song received over 100 streams on Spotify – a number I’ve never even glanced at until now. By the end of the weekend that number had surpassed 200.
More importantly, I’m receiving comment after comment of how deeply this song resonates with people. Reactions like this from Erika,
“on listening for the first and second and third and forth time I want to tell you that I am so grateful this song exists and has been released into our world. Wow. There are so many lyrical turns that just gutted me (in a good way). The coupling of pain right alongside friendship, faith (whatever that looks like), and life was so articulate.”
Something is happening with this song and I’m going to lean into it.
For this week’s Good Things, I’ve collected some videos and articles that take us into the deep end, I hope, towards freedom.
Thing To Listen To: Trying To Be Free Official Music Video
I don’t often share my own music in Good Things, but I want you to see my new music video so I’ll err on the side of oversharing. I’ll be blogging about how I brought all this imagery together in about one week, but for now, take it all in and please let me know your thoughts. I’m still not sure what all of it means so there are no wrong answers.
You can buy the song or find streaming links to “all the places” at https://vonbieker.com/trying-to-be-free
Thing to Read: Brian Doyle’s Long River of Song
I’ve just discovered Brian Doyle and feel like I’ve been living next door to a best friend I’ve never met for ten years. Reading One Long River of Song: Notes on Wonder, I’ve laughed out loud and shed actual tears in these essays – both things I rarely do while reading. I am devouring this book – breathing it in and feeling the oxygen hit my spirit. It couldn’t have come at a better time, as my soul has been feeling a bit tender. Whose hasn’t this year?
Here’s one of my favourite bits so far – a paragraph that could grace my tombstone.
“This is what I know: that the small is huge, that the tiny is vast, that pain is part and parcel of the gift of joy, and that this is love, and then there is everything else. You either walk toward love or away from it with every breath you draw. Humility is the road to love. Humilty, maybe, is love. That could be. I wouldn’t know; I’m a muddle and a conundrum shuffling slowly along the road, gaping in wonder, trying to just see and say what is, trying to leave shreds and shards of ego along the road like wisps of litter and chaff.”Brian Doyle, One Long River of Song
Put a copy on hold at the library. Better yet, buy it so you can dog-ear the pages.
Thing to See: Men In Love When They Could Not Be
History is told by the winners. Or those with the power. The distortion this creates is that, when we do not see something from the past represented, we assume it didn’t exist. Found photography is a form of truth telling. Perhaps a better word is revelation.
The freedom to love and be loved by someone of your same gender is still very new (and for many still a piece of the future and not the present). Such relationships were certainly not accepted widely in western nations between 1850 and 1950. Yet, of course, they existed. And here is some beautiful proof.
Hugh Nini and Neal Treadwell have amassed a collection of antique photos of “men in love between 1850 and 1950”. The images are haunting. They are sad, but also joyous. In this moment, at least, they were in love and wanted to remember that. Wanted to be seen. Were seen by at least their photographer.
Nuni and Treadwwell are careful to choose images that they are certain represent more than a friendship between men. They attest that “there is one sure way to determine if a photo is ‘loving.’ We look into their eyes. There is an unmistakable look that two people have when they are in love. You can’t manufacture it. And if you’re experiencing it, you can’t hide it.”
You will see men trying to be free.