Track by Track 6/10: Everything Is Broken

In an attempt to shine a light on each individual song on Starlight, we’re doing a blog series entitled “Track by Track.” Each week a different member of TRN will write about the 10 songs that make up our new album.

EVERYTHING IS BROKEN
BY CALEB MITCHELL

The all too familiar plight of the poor character described in Everything Is Broken surprisingly gives me hope for the hustle of the working musician, although that might not be the direct intention of the story. In my line of work as well as in our journey as a band, money can certainly be a wonderful consequence of our time and energy and something that we strive for in order for us to keep doing what we do. Sometimes, however, we play a show for a cause that we feel passionate about or maybe even just to make people dance and have fun, and there's something simply fantastic about that... a sentiment that is plainly missing here. The protagonist of this story spends his life seeking what he has been taught is necessary to be successful: "making a fortune," "quick fame," "owning fancy cars and clothes," …only to end up feeling lonely and regretful.

The lyrics certainly strike a chord with anyone working hard to make any kind of living. The narrative outlines a story of the boy growing up ("just a little boy, with dreams about the world"), getting rich and fighting to succeed in a fast paced lifestyle in order to get those material possessions we all desire ("off to make a fortune, off to make a home"), and ultimately finding what could be considered success. The trade off however is losing sight of what really matters ("the place that he once loved") and ultimately missing out on the precious time that could have been spent with family and loved ones. In a culture of all-pervasive social media we're often advised that fame and success means getting that next promotion or that higher paying job, but many too often fail to see the price to be paid for that blind climb. As musicians I feel that we're fortunate to view the world through a slightly different lens. Of course there is business to attend to, but the choices we make often have motivations outside of what might be considered normal. There exists a certain sense of the pursuit of happiness inherent to any creative job, no matter what the gig may pay.

As the trumpet player in the band this song also represents a bit of the reality of my line of work, and why I do what I do. Once the horns finally enter two minutes into the song we don't really stop. This haunting psychedelic tune churns harder and harder, gaining so much momentum until the eventual climactic pay off at the end when it becomes a force of nature. The muscles in my face inevitably whine to give in as the horn lines get progressively higher and longer, taking more and more effort. The performance leads to a fatigue inherent from shoving a metal instrument against one's face for an extended period of time. Finally we make it to the end and the journey to make it there simply would never have been the same without all that real work. Everyone plays their part and does their musical responsibility, working together to create something real and worthwhile.

TRN plays because we love the music and the opportunity to create that something special that has nothing to do with the corporate ladder, something greater than ourselves. The message of "Everything Is Broken" is deep-rooted; the popular idea today of becoming successful and getting rich has become twisted in many ways, but this song seems such an excellent vehicle to express that there is still hope, though it might not seem obvious. It could feel like there is so much currently broken in the world that it's easy to lose sight of all the good out there, but this song reminds me that the reward of being a musician, or really just nurturing everyone's own creative side, is more than worth the often challenging journey. We may not drive fancy cars like some characters in the song, but we travel this road together knowing we're doing it for the right reasons.