One year ago this month, the band Future Islands appeared on Late Show with David Letterman and blew everyone’s mind, including Letterman’s, leaving him chuckling, “I’ll take all of that you got!”
It was my first time seeing and hearing the band and it was the first time in a long time that I felt moved by new music. They oozed sincerity, not aloofness, not hipness, not rock-starness. They made me smile. That performance should have been the final scene in a movie where everyone finally recognizes how sweet and awesome the guy they’ve been ignoring is. If they ever remake Back to the Future*, it should replace the scene where Marty McFly and the Starlighters play Johnny B. Goode.
Then I looked up the video. More genuine feels.
Step three. See if my local public library has their records. Of cooooourse they do! I even got a “good record” and a nod by the Sight & Sound department when I checked it out. That’s the public library equivalent of street cred.
So here it is one year later and I’m still listening to and thinking about the Singles album and what I’m thinking about it is that I think it changed my life.
Not in a big way, but in some important ways. The way books usually change me. I loved it so much I wanted to call old friends and talk about it, which reminded me I should call my old friends more and made me miss them in the best I-have-great-old-friends way. I started feeling brighter in the dark winter mornings because I danced and sang “My Sun In the Morning” with my son. The way frontman Samuel T. Herring seemed to pour his heart out with his unadorned lyrics made me feel less self-conscious about the way I expressed myself, through words, and dress and dance.
Being moved by the authenticity and simplicity of Future Islands also made the irony and sarcasm and power-trips, and yadda yadda yadda seem that much more tiresome. And I began looking for the feeling I got from that music in the television and movies I watched, the books I read, the Facebook friends I followed. I’m still looking (LA Story with Steve Martin comes close). But in the meantime, I’m not sick of listening to Singles on repeat and I don’t know if I ever will be. Daaaang, “Back in the Tall Grass” makes me feel like a teenager with the whole summer ahead of me and a big ol’ crush to take up all my thinking time.
So lots of other people have written much smarter and more informative reviews of this band, but I hope this one is the most sincere because this band makes me want to make the whole world more sincere. I hope they have the same effect on you or, rather, I hope something you read or listen to or watch has this effect on you. Start looking for it at the library.
*: please don’t ever try to remake Back to the Future.