I bought Phoenix’s It’s Never Been Like That a year late.  When I graduated from college at the beginning of May, I found myself, for the first time, subletting my apartment for the summer, packing up all of my worldly possessions from college, and driving back home for the last time.   The album came out in 2006.   I picked it up in 2007, about one month before I flew to Philadelphia to begin my two year commitment to Teach for America.

It’s Never Been Like That was that perfect fresh blast of soft and pop music I needed for the summer.  I spent many nights driving down the canopy roads and thinking about the choices I had made up to that point, the choices that had gotten me to being back home in Tallahassee before I started a job I had no qualifications for, a job where people just told me, “It’s so tough.  You have no idea”–all the while Phoenix was playing in the background.  (So was MGMT.  But what self-respecting semi-hipster indie-fan didn’t have them spinning all summer long?)  I waited in Tallahassee for almost two months.

Look out--look at, look at me
Calm down calm down I said to myself this time

The nervousness of my impending future/disaster (…it’s so tough…) played in my head.  It reeled over and over again.  Possibility after awful possibility played in my head as I permuted the possibilities of the future my decisions had led me to the former here and now.

Where to go I had no idea about it
Most of the people do, they're only doing just fine
I don't wanna stay in place no more, see
Ain't doing well, well, well, I'm only doing just fine

TFA Induction Location

Then, all of a sudden, I was in Philadelphia.  Phoenix was still playing on my iPod, and I was desperately listening to anything to calm my nerves.  I was aloof in a place where people weren’t allowed to be aloof.  I was in TFA.  As a requirement you are asked to be social all the time, to participate, to be active, to meet people, to schmooze, to engage, to question, to discern, and to do a whole host of other verbs.  I walked in the crowd, headphones in.  No clue where I was going, but confident the group would get me to where I needed to go.

   Second to none, I wouldn't seriously get involved in a thing
   Bored of all the talking, you know it didn't change much
   I doubt your intentions are to make me feel any better today
   I even doubt tomorrow will be as easy as it was

I was ambivalent about TFA.  I didn’t exactly buy their sales pitch once I became a   member of their organization.  I doubted what they were really about, I didn’t want to get involved with them much, and it seemed as though the more I rejected them, the more they rejected me.  (NOTE:  This is only tacitly true.  Once I, later, began accepting them, they became more accepting of me.)

It started all in early September
When my godgiven little became a lot older

The rest, as I shall say, is history.  Last September came and went, and here I am a year older.  Phoenix is still with me.   And now they have a new album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, to sustain me and relate to my life.  When the lead singer Mars hits it, he hits it right.

The question is, which lyrics will define this year?

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