Urban Fathers' Liberation Front

Confused dads working out the city

The Worry List

on May 16, 2012

Now I’m not going out to an office to work, I am less in need of the radio clock alarm waking me in the morning. However, one morning recently, I was awoken to a song I’d not heard before which caught my attention. The song was called, ‘The Worry List’, and it was by an American band called Blue October. The song itself was heartfelt, and the lyrics drew me in:
“I know that God exists. I held her in my arms.
I never knew I was able to ever feel this strong.
Take me off your worry list, it’ll be better that way”.

I bought the song and, on the strength of that, bought the album. It transpires that the whole album is about the lead singer’s divorce and the battle for the custody of his very young daughter, who has provided some of the artwork for the album. ‘Any Man In America’ refers to the legal system over there which, in the singers view, keeps fathers away from the children in the wake of such cases.

I have no idea whether this is true or not, and I have no idea how culpable and honest the singer is in trying to put over his case and express his side of the story, a story which, I guess, wasn’t too successful in ensuring that he maintains a relationship with her in years to come.  I also don’t know anything about his wife.

What does come through on the record, however, is the intensity with which he cares for his daughter, the love he feels for her, and the pain he suffers in not being with her. There are a number of photos on the artwork for the record of them together, and they seem at ease and happy together. As a creative person, he has perhaps struggled to make a living and find his way, and perhaps regrets not being able to put his time and effort into his relationship with her.  But this must be a common story with many dads, particularly in a society which perpetuates the idea that men should work and women should raise the kids, despite the momentum of feminism that I’ve referred to in previous posts, and the general feeling I have that lots of people don’t actually agree with this system.  His particular choice of music as a career must be hard on all concerned, especially if he’s travelling around America and other parts of the world trying to be successful.

I’m sure he has gripes about being cast out of a relationship with his daughter by the system we have, and perhaps adopting a stance in the west that the maternal parent is the better one for raising a child is the outcome we have to have.

I’m a little uneasy about this, however, not least because the maternal parent won’t always be in the best place to look after the children of failed relationships.  What underlies this, it seems, is the apparent conviction that society has that we have to maximise our working lives, maximise the opportunity we have and maximise lives family lives.  It’s great to have choice and opportunity, but something has to give in all this maximisation – and be seen to be maximising it.  Analogous with the rise of credit and the following debt, we can’t expect to keep taking.  In the end, someone will have to pay with something.  It seems in the case of my singer, his ambition to travel and be successful with his band is the price he pays for a failed relationship and estrangement from his child.

Check out the album, though. It’s a belter.

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