Learning to be Kind to Yourself

 In Arete, Music

Holding myself accountable to a previous post, I recently saw Pedro The Lion (aka David Bazan) perform in Salt Lake City. The show was a bucketlist live performance for me. It was an experience that affected me unlike any other.

“I’ve been writing songs about toxic masculinity and toxic capitalism for 20 years”

I hadn’t seen a Pedro The Lion show before. My ears perked up to hear a more weathered style than on the albums.  This really shouldn’t be a shock; David (and most of us too) has done a lot of living in the 14 years since the last Pedro LP was released.

“I’ve been writing songs about toxic masculinity and toxic capitalism for 20 years,” Bazan said to the audience, in the first of only two breaks during the set. “And we’ve got a real problem with this in our culture.”

The lyrics hadn’t changed from the albums, but the intensity — the urgency of the music was delivered at a heightened level. It was a sound that not only believed the truth of the music, but it also conveyed an importance and conviction that the audience also believe.

Bazan hasn’t been stagnant since the last Pedro release. He’s released eight LPs as David Bazan since 2007. Pedro The Lion worked a few of those songs into the set, and yet the sound for these carried a heavier intensity. Even the  heartrendingly vulnerable “Trouble With Boys” was performed with a fermented confidence that I will  not soon forget.

“Trouble With Boys”
David Bazan
Published on Nov 11, 2016

“Trouble With Boys”
Pedro The Lion
Houston February 14, 2018

In the 22 years of attending shows, I had never cried at a performance until I heard Pedro The Lion perform “Trouble With Boys.”

“Our society is falling off of a cliff, and I know you can feel it”

Bazan stressed the importance of the set itself, telling the audience to make it a play list, then find a time to go through the progression of these songs and really listen to the lyrics. Conferring on setlist.fm, I saw that it has been the same set list for the entire tour.

Coming back for the encore, before starting  “Of Up and Coming Monarchs,” Bazan revisited his comments from the prior break (written as best I could remember):

“This culture of masculinity is hurting women. Guys, we are hurting women. Our society is falling off of a cliff, and I know you can feel it. The best way to change this is to just be kind. And I don’t mean to not get mad, because believe me, I get really fucking mad sometimes. I mean when you are talking with someone, just be kind. In your interactions — in your relationships; allow each other love who they love; be with who they want to be with. Have empathy. And that all starts with learning to be kind to yourself.”

Set List and Lyrics

All the way to grandma’s house
I stayed on the narrow path
But my brother wandered off
Deep into the woods
Bitten twice by rattle snakes
Tangled up in poison oak
He fell down and broke his legs
Into a great ravine
When I arrived at grandma’s house
She made us tea and cake
She asked me where my brother was
I said I don’t know and ate
When I get to heaven I’ll be greeted warmly
Surrounded by angels
As Jesus takes my hand
I’ll receive a mansion
On the river Jordan
And a crown of diamonds
For a race well run
I won’t ever lock my doors
I will trust my neighbors
Confident that they deserve
To be there in heaven, too

Ultra-violet rays wash over
All the boys and girls
As their moms lay tanning by the pool
Oh, look, their dad’s arriving home
All the children hug his neck
Unaware of their inheritance
All the experts say you ought to start them young
That way they’ll naturally love the taste of corporate cum
God bless the Indian summer
God bless the Indian summer
God bless the Indian summer
Don’t you just love the sun
Doesn’t it make you feel good all over
It’s my pleasure to announce
In conjunction with the fed
And my recent popularity
Thanks in part to mother nature
It will never rain again
It should do wonders for the GNP
If you’re just joining us now
You’ve missed a brilliant speech
We go now live to the streets
To find out what the voters think
He’s worked a miracle
I just now bought a brand new car
God bless the Indian summer

What makes you think that it won’t grow back in a day or two?
Husbands in winter, they know the truth
But what can they do?
Don’t like girls the way they are
So shave their legs and make them look like movie stars
Then we can pretend that it’s natural
Put on whatever makes you attractive
If it’s not you then do it for the sake of fashion
Your friends like a certain you
That’s who you’ve got to be
Junior high legs
Blond hair gone black from removing it
Waxing since thirteen, wisdom from a beauty queen
Her tiara digging deep in her head
Put on whatever makes you attractive
If it’s not you then do it for the sake of fashion
Your friends like a certain you
That’s who you’ve got to be
That’s who you’ve got to be
I’m starting to think that I’m kind of shy
Or at least I’d like to be
Winter rays give me heart attacks
So take it off and make it so it never comes back
Then we can pretend that it’s natural

Wolves wait at your door
For your permission
Slyly you invite them
On one condition
They prepare a feast
From your provisions
Of root and wild beast
For you to eat
Surprise
They took your money and ate your kids
And they had their way with your wife a little bit
While you wept on the porch
With your head in your hands
Cursing taxes and the government
‘Cause you’re a goddamn fool
You’re a goddamn fool
You’re a goddamn fool
And I love you
Yeah I love you
Look into your eyes
Your former glory
Bright and open wide
Like Easter morning
How the light has dimmed
And how the fear of everything is creeping in
‘Cause you’re a goddamn fool
You’re a goddamn fool
You’re a goddamn fool
And I love you
Yeah I love you

You got drunk
Drunker than you’d ever been
You hailed a cab and passed out cold
Before you told the driver where to go
So he drove you around Chicago
You woke up sicker than you’d ever been
You threw up and shit the bed
And there was no one there to clean you up
And the room was spinning all around
Make a fist and take a deep breath
Close your eyes and count to ten
Just keep swinging ‘til you’re over it
The mess you left had got you feeling pretty bad
But she is a maid I guess that’s what she gets paid for

I go out in public now
More than you might think
But only after pills and drinks
That’s how I remember
Then if I see any girl
I’ve ever met before
I run like hell for the door
That’s how I remember
Memory records
Selected shorts and interpretations
Then later plays them back
As gospel fact
That’s how I remember
That’s how I remember
With one eye open
You can focus like a camera
On whomever you are capturing
Without exception I prefer it as a way to document
The objects of my interest
Red and yellow, black and white
Are precious in his eyes
But who he roots for in a fight
That’s how I remember
Every time I find a girl
Beaten, gagged, and bound
I let her go and write it down
That’s how I remember
That’s how I remember

I saw in your bedroom, the drawers had been emptied.
Looking for answers but you won’t admit it now
You don’t need a reason
That’s what you tell me but I still don’t buy it.
You drink yourself silly night after night
It makes me feel so good to always tell you when you’re wrong.
The big man that I am to always have to put you down
Put you down
Then there’s your girlfriend
She opens her legs and gives your life meaning.
Is that what you love her for?
The angel is always looking down
He’s perfect without frown, the bully always wins.
It makes me feel so good to always tell you when you’re wrong.
The big man that I am to always have to put you down
Put you down
It makes me feel so good to always tell you when you’re wrong
The big man that I am to always have to put you down
It makes we look so good to always put you in your place
I can write it in a song but never say it to your face
To your face

We were walking, holding hands
With our bare feet in the sand
And the seagulls overhead
When I broke the spell and said
“I could never divorce you
Without a good reason
And though I may never have to
It’s good to have options”
But for now, I need you
But for now, I need you
But for now, I need you
But it was only in my head
Because no one ever says
What they really mean to say
When there’s so much at stake
So I told her I loved her
And she told me she loved me
And I mostly believed her
And she mostly believed me

Have you ever seen and idealist
With gray hairs on his head
Or successful men that keep in touch
With unsuccessful friends
You only think you did
I could have sworn I saw it too
But as it turns out
It was just a clever ad for cigarettes
‘Cause if it isn’t making dollars
Then it isn’t making sense
If you aren’t moving units
Then you’re not worth the expense
If you really want to make it
You had best remember this
If it isn’t penetration
The it isn’t worth the kiss
We’re so sorry sir
But you did not quite make
The cut this time
And we’d appreciate it if you
Cleared you stuff on out by five
Don’t take it personal
Everyone knows you did your best
If it makes it easier
You should look at it
From our perspective
‘Cause if it isn’t making dollars
Then it isn’t making sense
If you aren’t moving units
Then you’re not worth the expense
If you really want to make it
You had best remember this
If it isn’t penetration
Then it isn’t worth the kiss

Your worried mistress thinks you need
Physical exertion and vitamin D
Misunderstanding the real enemy
Sunlight and gravity
Kept secrets flow down crooked slopes
And cut a hundred river beds in valley floors below
Every liar knows he’ll die alone
Still you hide your hope and hedge your bets
Until the snow is white with ocean fog
Down on her hardwood bedroom floor
You penned the doctrine of pre-emptive war
You gladly perform for deafening applause
Then you call it sabotage
Kept secrets flow down crooked slopes
And cut a hundred river beds in valley floors below
Every liar knows he’ll die alone
Still you hide your hope and hedge your bets
Until the snow is white with ocean fog

This line is metaphysical
And on the one side
And on the one side
The bad half live in wickedness
And on the other side
And on the other side
The good half live in arrogance
And there’s a steep slope
With a short rope
This line is metaphysical
And there’s a steady flow
Moving to and fro
Oh look you earned your wings
Are you an angel now
Or a vulture?
Constantly hovering over
Waiting for a big mistake
Oh my God, what have I done?
Wouldn’t you love to be
On the cover of a magazine?
Healthy skin and perfect teeth
Designed to hide what lies beneath
And I feel the darkness growing stronger
As you cram light down my throat
And how does that work out for you
In your holy quest to be above reproach?
Wouldn’t you love to be
On the cover of a magazine?
Healthy skin and perfect teeth
Designed to hide what lies beneath
What lies beneath

This line is metaphysical
And on the one side
And on the one side
The bad half live in wickedness
And on the other side
And on the other side
The good half live in arrogance
And there’s a steep slope
With a short rope
This line is metaphysical
And there’s a steady flow
Moving to and fro
Oh look you earned your wings
Are you an angel now
Or a vulture?
Constantly hovering over
Waiting for a big mistake
Oh my God, what have I done?
Wouldn’t you love to be
On the cover of a magazine?
Healthy skin and perfect teeth
Designed to hide what lies beneath
And I feel the darkness growing stronger
As you cram light down my throat
And how does that work out for you
In your holy quest to be above reproach?
Wouldn’t you love to be
On the cover of a magazine?
Healthy skin and perfect teeth
Designed to hide what lies beneath
What lies beneath

The impact
The aftershave
The European cigarettes
The taxi
The alcohol
That lingers on your breath
The lipstick
The street lamp
The woolen overcoat
The front desk
You tell yourself
It isn’t over yet
Second best, oh, second best
I can learn to live with this
Plus, I really need a rest
After all, what’s wrong with second best
What’s wrong with second best
The motel
The distances
Cave into kisses, cold and wet
Familiar exchanges
Like needle pulling thread
The empty movements that once were so inspired
Desperate attempts to fan the flame without the fire
The mattress creaks beneath
The symphony of misery and cum
Still, we lie jerking back and forth
And blurring into one
Second best, oh, second best
I can learn to live with this
Plus, I really need a rest
After all, what’s wrong with second best
What’s wrong with second best

Dear, unlock the door
You’re acting like a child
When you’ve said it to yourself
We are at war
How dare you turn on me now
Right when I need you most
I wish I could have seen their faces
When they heard the news
Now that’s the sort of smack
That leaves a bruise
The victory is ours at last
I beat them at their own dirty game
They pervert the words of godly men
For their own selfish gain
I took their wrong and I took their lies
And I made them right,
I made them right
Oh, look who it is
It’s my supportive wife
And she thinks she’s going to squeal
Hey where do you think you’re going?
Don’t you walk away from me
You put down that telephone
You’re not calling anyone

Paramedics brave and strong
Up before the break of dawn
Putting poker faces on
Broken bodies all day long
The neighbors heard a fight
Someone had a knife
It must have have been the wife
Husband’s lost a lot of blood
He wakes up screaming
“Oh my God, am I gonna die?
Am I gonna die?”
As they strapped his arms down to his sides
At times like these they’d been taught to lie
“Buddy just calm down, you’ll be alright.”
Several friends came to his grave
His children were so well-behaved
As the priest got up to speak
The assembly craved relief
But he himself had given up
So instead he offered them this bitter cup
“You’re gonna die, we’re all gonna die
Could be twenty years, could be tonight
Lately I have been wondering why
We go to so much trouble to postpone the unavoidable
And prolong the pain of being alive”

All your trouble with boys
Like you’re making a choice
Still, you really don’t know
Why they treat you so
So bad
Your stepbrother smirks that it has
Nothing to do with your dad
And you dream that the sound of his voice
Might melt them away
Your trouble with boys
And you wonder what he would say
And would it be enough?
Either way
You are worthy of love
You are worthy of love

Sunken ships rest
Upon the ocean floor
Where I’ve made my home
To dodge the draft once more
There once was a time
One could flee to the north
But Canada’s not what she used to be
Boycott the war
Well she could not afford to
Thanks to the new American queen
Swim with me and we’ll escape
All the trouble of the present age
Finally free
The mermaids teach us
How to breath beneath
The line that now divides
Action from apathy

Bands with managers are going places
Bands with messy hair and smooth white faces
You don’t believe when I say
It won’t be alright
Vans with fifteen passengers are rolling over
But I trust t. william walsh
And I’m not afraid to die

Dad, dad, why did you let that man
Push you around like that?
You should have beat him down
Down to the ground for that
He said son, you’re still young
And you always jump the gun
There’s real people in the big, big trucks
That you flip off when they get in your way
They’re so high that you pay no mind
To the big, big sign that says ‘oversize load’
Do you really think they can go as fast as you
In your ’87 Trans Am
They know you’re in such a terrible rush
But they’re going just as fast, as fast as they can
Dad, dad, I really don’t understand
What driving big trucks has to do with that man
You shoulda taught him a lesson
About being rude, about talking to you with such an attitude
He said son, you’re still young
And you always jump the gun
There’s real people in the big, big trucks
That you flip off when they get in the way
They’re so high that you pay no mind
To the sign that says ‘oversize load’
Do you really think they can go as fast as you
In your ’87 Trans Am
They know you’re in such a terrible rush
But they’re going just as fast, as fast as they can

Recent Posts