I’m a bit obsessed with Ben Rector’s newest album. Not since Crowder’s A Collision, released in 2005, have I willingly listened to the same set of songs again and again without getting tired. And I don’t know what it is… Or maybe I do.
I think I listened to it first with Nils during our drive to Des Moines to see Miss Maisy. Magic was released the week she was born, and I do remember Kyle asking me if I’d heard the title song. We were feeling the magic for sure, just thinking about our new little grand-girl. And it was Grant and Kiana who told us it was Ben’s baby Jane he’d been writing about in at least a couple of the songs.
So this morning I chose Magic for my morning run, thinking I’d need something to keep me going a bit longer, since I’d missed Saturday’s workout with Cheryl and Casey, and we’re supposed to be training for the 10-mile this fall. And it worked, too. Just under 45-minutes to the final track and my favorite song.
The first several tunes took me through my normal route, Legacy and back, a loop around the neighborhood and past the Round Barn. Every song a bit of nostalgia, and I remember how Nils says his younger buddies have been hating on Rector for those 80’s instrumentals and his throw-back lyrics. I googled Rector’s age, found out he’s 30-something, surprised he’s so young.
And so I’m working up a good sweat on a humid morning thinking about Kyle and me driving the coast of California on more than one work trip back in the day. Remembering childhood friends and my boys as babies and we were kids back then, thinkin’ we would live forever…
I run past my house and around the block up to Round Lake and back, wondering how much further I should go, but it’s Wherever You Are and I wonder if Ben’s thinking about his sweet baby Jane someday. My kids say no. Not every song is about him, he just writes for all of us, and no kidding. And except for the first verse about some gal named Jenny, this is me and all five of my boys and wherever you are, even if it’s Iowa…
I’ve gone back past Jean’s house, coming up Orchid Street for the second time, and Ben’s singing about boxes of old CDs. I’m thinking about how this weekend I cleaned the shelves in my library at home, filling up boxes with old books. And I’d run across binders full of notes from writing a Bible study and writing that book, still unpublished, and for a minute the song was about me, until it wasn’t. Because he’s singing about the old days and guys making music together and I’d long forgotten how it feels to chase a dream, and all of a sudden I’m remembering this mom dream about my boys, three in the same state, and – As for the rest, I bet they’re teachers or pastors now… And I remind myself to send the text as soon as I get back. GUYS! DON’T FORGET WHILE YOU’RE DOWN THERE TO MAKE MUSIC TOGETHER.*
By now I’m wondering how many songs are left ‘til the last one, this run over and then some, and maybe I should just skip to the end. But I hear the first few lyrics, and the tears start coming, and this one’s a prayer, for one boy especially, this peace with where I am now.
I slow-sprint the last block past home, cool-down walking and finally. Love Like This. Grant’s song, and Kiana’s. And I’m teary again remembering how they told their story about the NICU and Maisy, the first time they heard it. My son, a new dad, and he asks me later. How does he do it?
It’s the way you’re smilin’ at me, it’s in the way you hold my hand
It’s the way I’ve watched you change me from a boy into a man
It’s a million things about you, and I don’t know what it is
But I have never known a love like this
* Now back home, showered for work, and I just had to write it. A bit more than a text. Because the truth is, I just think of you sometimes.