On 'Shame', By The Avett Brothers

On 'Shame', By The Avett Brothers

I'll keep praying the same, with some help from the Avett Brothers.


I'm the worst type of music listener: I play one song on repeat for days, and then move onto another one. The old Avett Brothers song, "Shame," is that song for me right now, and what better way to maximize what I get out of the song than write an Odyssey article about it?

With Scott Avett strumming and Seth Avett singing, the song proceeds with a country and folksy tune, with a slow beat and emotional tone. Like many Avett Brothers songs, this one starts with a love story and the reminiscing of a hectic end to a relationship: 'Okay, so I was wrong about/ My reasons for us fallin' out." But for Seth, there's a lot of regret, and a whole of shame, when he refers to the relationship as one "of love I want to fall back in." He claims to be a new man: "my name is different now, I swear/ I know now what it means to care/ About somebody other than myself." Ironically, in many life renditions of the song, Scott Avett interjects that "that's not true." Seth Avett then asks for another chance with his former lover and the relationship, and begs his ex-lover to "give a man a second start."

The chorus and crux of the song explore the theme of the song: shame. I've written before on the incredibly important differentiation between the phenomena of guilt and shame. Guilt implies that you do bad things, while shame implies that you are bad, and are irredeemable. Guilt is good, but shame is bad. I know this to be true and have often to preached the idea to others the same, but damn is it difficult as hell to not feel shame in our daily lives. And that shame, something I know to be inherently bad and unproductive, is something that overwhelms myself and so many of my peers almost every moment of every day.

Because I think they're so powerful, I'll just list the chorus here for everyone to not only read and think about, but feel:

"Shame, boatloads of shame
Day after day, more of the same
Blame, please lift it off
Please take it off, please make it stop."

I stop in my tracks every time I hear this verse. The second line, that shame hits "day after day" and hits us continually, and infests our lives with "more of the same" misery and pain hits home. In the third line, Seth Avett is begging for someone, anyone to "please lift it off," and hammers the point home in the last line to "please take it off, please make it stop."

One verse laments "the mail/ the stories people often tell/ about us that we never knew," referring to the gossip that surrounds the past relationship that only makes the situation worse. Another verse accepts that his world, now different, is changed, and often unbearable. "But now I'm out and I've had time...And sink into another world/ That's filled with guilt and overwhelming shame."

But there's a silver lining, and some consolation in the midst of this incredibly overwhelming shame. This is where the Avett Brothers choose to end the song. The singer has changed when he sees other people going through similar breakups, fallouts, and overall negative situations Previously, when somebody ' "And when they break and fall apart/ And need somebody's helping hand/ I used to say just let 'em fall." Before, he "couldn't help them," but now, he can.

So what do I take away from a song I'm doing unnecessarily exhaustive literary analysis on? Shame sucks. It really does. I see shame as an overarching source of so much pain and suffering for so many people, including myself - I often pray some variation of these words when I have the chance. "Heavenly Father, please, please, lift some of this shame. Make some of it more bearable, make some of it stop. Father please, please, make some of it go away." Although there is some good to it, and much of the shame I have felt has often been an intensively hard lesson on empathy, I'll keep praying the same, with some help from the Avett Brothers.

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.

When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...


"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"


Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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