YOUTH IN REVOLT

OH, IF THINGS WERE AS SIMPLE NOW AS THEY WERE BACK THEN, AND SPENDING TIME IN THE BACKYARD WITH MY MOM AND HER CAMERA WAS THE MOST PRESSING THING ON MY SCHEDULE, RIGHT? BUT DECADES LATER, I AM HAPPY WITH HOW FAR I’VE COME, HOW MUCH I’VE LEARNED, AND ALL THE THINGS I HAVE YET TO EXPERIENCE.

“Though my body is far from old, I’m bowing to useless youth. And I can’t fake a fist to throw through the crust of the earth. If you find me, don’t wake me … I can’t be shaken awake. If you don’t stare at the dark and if you never feel bleak, life starts to lose its taste.” FRIGHTENED RABBIT

Oh age. I’ve been thinking about that lately.

Maybe it’s because I finally feel older than ever, even though I am still mistaken for being anywhere from five years to a full decade younger than my real number. (Hey, give a girl a chance to be pleased with herself for a moment. I just admitted I see the days, weeks, months, years, creeping by.)

It feels like yesterday I was eating glue with my then-best-friend Jill Jordan, four years old at our church daycare. It was either that or gluing our hands together, only to eventually pull it all off, spiderwebs of dried Elmer’s peeling from our tiny hands. And yes, this favorite pastime was done during what was supposed to be naptime. Ah quiet rebels, the both of us, even then.

Now she is a mother, a wife, an aunt.

I was home for Thanksgiving this past November. On the highway to my next destination, I was hit with the sudden realization that I hadn’t gone to see my Dad during the brief moment I was in town. I quickly detoured to purchase a poinsettia for his grave at the garden center at Lowe’s in Columbus. It was there I ran into Jill’s mother, Janice, and her older sister, Kelly.

Although the visit was brief, it was good to still feel such a connection so many years later. Once I returned to Chicago, Janice and I hooked up on Facebook, where I was able to “meet” the rest of her now family, which included grandchildren Dean Hartleroad, 19, Max Hartleroad, 16, and Miles Jordan, 15.

Better known to those who love them or have heard their music as The Motions.

When she asked if she could send me their CD, I must admit I was sceptical. I am not a good bad critic of music. I still haven’t written a review of a recent show I went to because I can not stand to be negative … remember, it’s all subjective anyway. One man’s Radiohead is another’s Britney Spears. (Shudder.) But I shouldn’t have worried in the slightest.

From the packaging to the recording, it’s good. I listened to it the first time on the Red Line coming home from work one day. (Raising yet another study in how far my life has taken me from childhood.) The raw, natural talent of all three is evident on each and every track. The best thing about the 10 songs off their self-titled CD? They were all written by them, and inspiration was obviously gained from my hometown. (Not an easy feat to accomplish, I assure you. Even Tennessee Williams had to live other places for a long time to eventually create “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”)

On tracks like “Drink Away your Pain,” a slower turn for the boys, the tones of the song show more maturity than that of normal teenagers. “This addiction’s got you down. Fear you haven’t yet touched ground. You’re looking out for just yourself. Please won’t you save you from yourself.” Dean, the frontman for The Motions, wrote many of the songs before the age of 17, when the CD was recorded in 2008.

There is obvious inspiration from other acts throughout the tracks, although they come across more as subtle nuances than rip-offs. “Intertwined Mind” has tones of The White Stripes in the music, driving guitar riffs mixed with slight drum taps. But it is really with “Fallen” that The Motions show the most promise in my eyes. (Or ears.)  It was the one that immediately jumped out to me on first listen. It is a 2-minute, 21-second, hard-hitting, well-deserved scolding on capitalism of sorts. (Yep … these are kids people.)

But to be honest with you, it’s not the album I am as impressed with as it is their future. To exhibit such drive and aptitude already can only bode well for The Motions in the years to come. They have now added a fourth member, Kyle Bennett, to the mix. Although unsigned, the band will be playing a few shows at SXSW in a couple of weeks. And yes, Janice will be taking her spring break in Austin to see her grandsons on stage. (Just a tinge of jealousy here, as SXSW is on my list of 10 things to do in the next few years, a list I’m slowly whittling away at.)

But I was reminded earlier this week by a random story I saw on the Internet, it’s never too late to become whatever you want. In France, there is a woman who travels around the country as a DJ at the age of 69. Ruth Flowers picked up the hobby after attending her grandson’s 21st birthday. As long as you are open to everything around you, I think there is no set time-line to what you will accomplish, or who you are supposed to be.

Just ask Dean, Max, Miles and Kyle as they move ahead; Janice as she continues to support them (both emotionally and financially … what a wonderful grandmother to believe in their music); Granny DJ spinning her tunes in rhinestone-covered headphones; or even me, as thankfully I can still vividly remember being that glue-eating four-year-old … so I can’t be all that far removed from her.

Age really is just a number.

http://www.myspace.com/themotionsonline

THE MOTIONS, FROM COLUMBUS, MISS., WILL BE PLAYING SEVERAL SHOWS AT SXSW LATER THIS MONTH. WITH AN AVERAGE AGE OF 17, THE BOYS ARE PROVING THAT MATURITY DOESN’T HAVE TO BE DEFINED BY HOW MANY DAYS YOU’VE BEEN ON THIS EARTH. (photo by wes frazer)

* And an addendum to my earlier post on The Motions … Dean prefers to be called Toby now. (Grandma failed to mention that.) Obviously Kyle goes by Harrison as well. Ha. And Hackberry Records in Tuscaloosa, Ala., is the band’s current label. http://www.hackberryrecords.com/ My bad, the CD I got has them unsigned. Should have done more research. But still cool, talented kids. At least I got that right.

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