She saw my comb over, her hourglass body. She has problems with drinking milk and being school tardy. She’ll loan you her toothbrush, she’ll bartend your party. – Kings of Leon
Some of my favorite bands drift in and out of my listening rotation along with the seasons. A few I associate with summer: REM, Southern Culture on the Skids, The New Pornographers, The B52s. When the leaves begin to turn and a chill returns to the air, their CDs go back on the shelf to hibernate. Other bands better compliment winter: Rush, U2, Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention. But there is one band whose music I embrace in sporadic bursts of obsession for a much less predictable reason. I’m speaking of the Kings of Leon, whose magic I can only seem to fully appreciate when I’m falling in love.
In a case of perfect timing, when I got home last night, a Kings of Leon concert was just starting on PBS. I’ve seen these three sons (and one nephew) of a preacher man live several times and they never disappoint, but I’m usually not one to watch televised concerts. However, I found that I was very much in the mood for an impromptu Kings show so I watched their amazing performance in its entirety. Having been a fan of KOL since their rough and tumble southern punk beginnings, it’s odd that I don’t begrudge them their current top 40 radio success. I think this is because they don’t seem to have any pretension about it and though their music is a bit more polished than it used to be, it still comes straight from the heart. Caleb Followill’s tortured Bayou vocals convey the bittersweet emotion of a man far older and more world-weary than his youthful presence would seem capable. While watching the screaming throng of teeny-boppers singing along and nearly swooning at the feet of these fairly nondescript, Average Joe rockers, my only thought was, “Good for you, Kings. You deserve it.”
Whenever the Kings of Leon release an album, it usually seems to coincide with the onset of a new romantic relationship for me. This strange synchronicity is wonderfully apropos since their music stirs my normally dormant romantic side like nothing else. “I don’t care what nobody says, no, I’m gonna be her lover! Always mad and you’s a drunk, but I love her like no other.” Lately, the entire notion of dating and romance is something I’ve gladly relegated to the past. This has been an enormous blessing, since it’s afforded me a good deal of time to work on myself mentally and spiritually without the inherent dishonesty of the mating dance to distract me from some difficult but rewarding self-discovery. And though I’ve arrived at a point where I don’t feel I need to eschew romance entirely anymore, I’ve certainly learned my lesson (many times) that it’s always best to wait and see who the Universe might put in my path rather than tell myself that I’m actively “looking”, which is the same as trying to force something that by its very nature cannot be forced.
Today, as I drove around Albuquerque on this beautiful spring day, the Kings of Leon were emanating from my open windows at top volume. I haven’t found myself romantically entranced by anyone for quite some time, but as I sang along in my best affected Deep South drawl, the goosebumps on my arms proved that I felt as if I had just met the woman of my dreams. And I realized that what was happening was that I was falling in love – once again – with the idea of falling in love. Strangely, I find this to be almost as exciting and life-affirming as the real thing.
Who might I meet? What are her passions, her vulnerabilities and her beautiful broken pieces? How does she laugh and what does she wear? And most importantly, does she like Bob’s Burgers? Since she is currently hypothetical, those were rhetorical questions, of course. But we all hold some kind of romantic ideal in our minds, don’t we? Were I to entertain my current ideals along those lines, maybe she’d be a short, quirky, awkward, so-homely-she’s-pretty with scruffy bangs obscuring her eyes, little dynamo of weirdness. A woman so shyly confident that she can transform one of the most god-awful musical abortions ever recorded into a perfect slice of rock-n-roll beauty. Having trouble envisioning such a person? Don’t worry. This should help:
Damn. Aha-shake-heartbreak! You haven’t let me down yet, Kings. Bring it on.