I know that this is an unusual pick, and I know that it might be an unpopular pick. But the simple fact is that “Wish” was the best song put out in country music and all its subsidiaries in 2010, and it deserves the utmost recognition that I can give it, however obscure my platform is.
“Wish” is the first track on the album Jim from a band from Ft. Worth called Left Arm Tan. The song caught my attention when I was crashing through the always-voluminous pile of review material stacked up on my desk in my cryptic filing system like a diorama of city skyscrapers. As I said in my review of the song, when it starts out, it really doesn’t reel you in. Left Arm Tan has a polished, mainstream sound, and the lyrics begin with nostalgia about childhood, and you want to roll your eyes and say, “here we go with the same old mainstream formula.” But “Wish” is so much more.
There is an alarming trend in the American culture right now. People are ashamed of who they are. People are embarrassed to be “normal”. Everyone wants to have a “kick ass” life. But average people are the majority; that’s what makes them average. Modern-day mainstream music is fueling a trend of people wanting to be something that they are not, instead of being thankful for who they are.
The majority of music coming from the super-genres of rap and country these days seems to be based on creating a vicarious outlook on a life that people don’t lead, instead of speaking about things that people can identify with. In an attempt to not want to feel normal, or escape mundanity, people consume songs full of country platitudes and laundry lists of things that are easily-identifiable as “country” instead of songs that actually try to say something meaningful and speak to them on a personal level. And the relationship between many country stars and their fans is one of worship instead of camaraderie. There is a sense of envy that permeates the whole performing/listening process. They look down from their pedestal, you look up at them.
“Wish” is the antidote to all of this nonsense.
Great songwriting has the ability to speak to the multitudes by being mutable to the human experience. By expressing an eternal theme of the human condition, a great song can speak to every individual like it was written just for them, making the experience that more intimate, touching one person in a completely different way than it may touch another. “Wish” touched me. It made me appreciate that envy is a trait that keeps us down, keeps us out of touch with ourselves, and that in EVERY life, no matter how normal or mundane it is, there is beauty. I didn’t just simply enjoy “Wish” from a sonic level, though in that regard it is a great song too, but it made me think about life from a perspective that I have never thought about it from before.
And I don’t mean to just harp on this one Left Arm Tan song and ignore the rest. All the songs on Jim are worth your time; I’m just afraid of diminishing the wisdom and depth of “Wish” by talking about it in the context of anything else. It is a one of a kind song. It is amazing. Anybody who tells you there’s no more good ideas for songs, that it’s all been done, this is proof they’re wrong, and that the talent evaluation process in American music is broken, because “Wish” should be a mega hit.
Once again, because of the strength of 2010’s music, Jayke Orvis and all the other Song of the Year candidates get screwed. But just like with the Albums of the Year, fans for “Wish” turned out in greater numbers, aside from my own personal feelings.
I know I’ll get a lot of comments saying, “Cool Trig, not really my speed but I appreciate your passion.” Or “Sounds like everything else on the radio to me.” Or people will not say anything. But if you really listen, let the song unfold and get the meaning, it just might change your life.