I never understood people who, not would, but could drive around town with no music playing. I didn’t even know how to turn my radio off in the truck. It’s not only part of my daily life, it’s most of my daily life that I listen to some type of music. While writing, I listen to mostly classical or instrumentals, but that’s because I simply am incapable of writing words and listening to words at the same time. It’s like rubbing your belly and patting your head.
I’ve never been a crazy fan of pop music, but my mind has always been open. Yes, in the 80’s I was big into Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Prince, but have always focused more on groups like The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Patsy Cline. I don’t have a type, like at all, but I do have not-my-types, and AJR should be one of them. They could be considered basic by some, but don’t let their cleanliness turn you off. It’s lemonade-after-yard-work refreshing. Just listen.
Their songs are fun and catchy, but it’s their lyrics that are what keep me tilting my head and raising my unplucked brow. They do this one song they call “Netflix Trip” which chronicles the speaker’s childhood paired with which episodes of The Office happened during those specific life events. It took me a bit to understand what they were talking about, but being a lover of The Office, I got what they were saying, and it’s brilliant and quite charming.
We human listeners of music generally replay songs that have a beat we like without knowing the words sometimes, which can be dangerous. Have you ever laughed when a child sang a lyric that was inappropriate? They don’t know what they’re repeating. Or, have you ever caught yourself singing along to “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga, “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen, or most any catchy tune by the Beatles, and not really thought about the meanings? There are thousands of songs we all know and love that are not something to snap our fingers to, but something to think to.
We don’t appreciate or pay attention to the words in the songs. I’m guilty, too, and AJR plays with that. Their song “Don’t Throw out my Legos” is a message to the speaker’s parents. Instead of saying, “Hey, I’m gonna miss y’all,” he says, “Please don’t throw out my Legos.” My gosh listen to it. I’m not a normally sappy person, but there was a point when the song would play, and Baylee would quickly change it. It became a funny joke around here. “Don’t let Mom listen to that song.”
AJR also does a song called “Dear Winter” which is an ode to the speaker’s future potential child. It’s very sweet with simple, yet real and common everyday ideas attached to the catchy music.
Generally speaking, AJR is quite vanilla, but so sweet, inclusive, and real. They’re three brothers, too, which offers temptation to my bias. It’s sappy simplicity that we need, yet shy away from these days with our incessant desires to be deep, interesting, and dark. Sometimes, though, we just need a little syrupy gentleness to plug into our minds as we ride to the store or front porch sit.