Band: Pedro the Lion
Album: Control
Best song: “Rapture” has the best guitar work.
Worst song: I don’t care for the production on “Progress.”

Maybe this is a function of my home life growing up or maybe it’s a function of simple disposition as a person. Maybe I’m naïve. But, everyone likely has a moment when it comes into stark reality that your parents are not authorities in the way that their word is their bond always. And that they make mistakes that we, as kids, make.

For most people, I imagine that takes place before one’s 21st birthday. For a multitude of reasons — my hopes of ignoring my parents as much as possible, for example — this notion came into starkest contrast when I was 21.

My parents split up when I was 21 — that’s kind of a diplomatic way to say it. Rather, my dad left my mom when I was 21. My sister was in med school at the time and I was home for summer vacation from college. I’d spent every other weekend in gorgeous, idyllic Madison, where my collge girlfriend was doing an intensive language summer program. One day, my dad drove me home from one of my part-time jobs and told me he was leaving. We got home and he packed up his stuff. It was not easy for my mother or I. I don’t know how easy it was for him, but it happened.

This, of course, wasn’t the world’s biggest surprise and therefore, not the thing that made me realize that, ultimately, my dad is just a dude. He’s not some authority — he wasn’t seen as that in our house anyway, as my mom did the punishing — but, moreso, he forgets about stuff and things become more important than his kids. As in, me.

I don’t know if he still does it — we are’t enemies or hate one another or anything, but I’m not super close with him — but my dad used to go to Las Vegas once or twice a year with some of his friends during Super Bowl weekend. It was a nice little men’s weekend to get away from the Chicago winter freeze, to watch football and to relax. The summer he left, he took me on a similar trip and it was, needless to say, awkward. It is the only time I’ve been to Las Vegas.

(Let me first warn of the folly of going to Las Vegas in the summer. It’s hot. Not like “Hey, it’s a little warm” hot. Like hot hot. Like “My face is melting” hot. Go in December.)

Anyway, he went to Las Vegas that coming winter, though I don’t think it was Super Bowl time. Before he left, he called me at school to ask me if I wanted anything from Las Vegas. I don’t remember why, but I wanted a Lacoste polo shirt. I probably liked the way they fit and there’s a Lacoste store in Caesar’s Palace. I gave him a list of colors and my shirt size. He said he’d make it happen.

But, he forgot about it.

It’s important to mention something heretofore untold on this site about my dad: He is not a particularly vocal or affectionate man. Indeed, he is of the generation and — more importantly — the temperment to rather buy his kids off with stuff to replace love. It’s not a terrible thing with which to grow up; I never really wanted for anything. With that said, I mostly blame him for my terrible relationship with money and goods.

I say all of this back story to hammer down the point that stuff purchased largely was equated with thought and love and whatever for my dad and I. It was the way I knew, at least, I was in his mind during the time in which he became less a part of the family I grew up with. Without that, our relationship was no less than it was.

That’s a difficult proverbial pill to swallow. It made me feel like my dad wasn’t a dad anymore. He was just a guy. A guy in my life and, in many ways, one responsible for who I am. But, ulike my mother or sister, he stopped being the molding force he once was. He’s just a dude who forgets things sometimes.

I used to argue with my late best friend about the quality of Pedro the Lion’s Control against the quality of Winners Never Quit. Critics always sided with him, but I never found the album’s storyline to be as interesting, as it was more concrete. I found the tempo to be more similar among songs.

Other songs just hit very close to home.

Between the two, David Bazan’s songwriting got increasingly bitter. In fact, Control doesn’t have the artistry that Winners Never Quit does in its lyricism. Nevertheless, the impassioned feelings of being wronged seep through Control and that has value. It is, in my mind, the quintessential Pedro the Lion record for that reason.

Bitterness. It’s hard to lose.

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2 Trackbacks

  • By Sing the Sorrow | Albums That I Own on August 2, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    […] I write about albums. Albums that I own. Skip to content AboutThree Years « Control Sing the Sorrow By R.J. | Published: August 2, […]

  • By Helplessness Blues | Albums That I Own on September 22, 2011 at 9:29 am

    […] were when they had my sister (their first child). My parents owned a house, two cars and a dog. I am living the dream, of course, but I do not have a house. I am not married. I do not want to have a kid. Maybe it’s just […]

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  • About Me

    I'm Ross Jordan Gianfortune. I am not a writer, but I sometimes write here about music and my life. I live in Washington, DC.

    I used to review each of Rolling Stone Magazine's top 500 albums of all time. Now I'm writing about albums I own.

    My work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Gazette, The Atlantic, Sno-Cone and a bunch of defunct zines.

    You can contact me at rjgianfortune at gmail dot com.

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