Another week, another vacation I’ll partially and lamentably be missing out on. Despite that I’ll be rejoining my family on the dunes of the cape in a matter of days, I still find myself struggling to cope with certain frustrating post-grad nuances. Amidst the clash of optimistic existential dreams and my recently repressed autonomy, minor triggers like missing part of what was meant to be my much needed time off leave me at a mental impasse. Although I’m not having any trouble in being an efficient worker bee within the corporate universe that I live in, I still find myself purposefully drifting off into an imaginative state to pretend that I’m laying on that beach, or lounging on that terrace, or gazing off into that coastal horizon. Needless to say, song association plays a crucial role in this deliberate detachment from the world.
Isbells has helped to create the largest dream cloud of them all. During most of its post-release existence, “Elation” was just another half-decent, relaxing acoustic jam that I could easily fall asleep to (in a good way). That would all change when I experienced the best vacation of my life in March of 2015. From a guy that get’s seasick by the slightest rock of the boat, I was terrified of my impulsive decision to join my friends on a 3 day, 2 night trip to the Great Barrier Reef in Whitsundays, Australia. Yes, that entire multi-day stay was spent entirely on a boat, and yes, I had prepared by purchasing every motion sickness cure known to man. Walking up to the boat, I was scared to death of the immanent misery that awaited me for the next several days. But then, by some small miracle, we were struck by the most immaculate weather I’ve ever experienced in my life.
Glass waters surrounded the 30 passenger vessel for 3 straight days, with the only interruption in that endless aqueous serenity being the small ripples trailing slow moving boat. We went from bay to bay, snorkeling with hundreds of “Nemo’s” and “Dory’s,” scuba diving with turtles and manatees, all the while perusing a colorful reef recognized as one of the greatest wonders of the world. As we approached dusk on the second night, I was struggling to define the blissful high that I was experiencing. Then, as I laid on the roof of the boat covered by the shade of the mast while watching the sun start to set, “Elation” started playing on the boat’s radio. Despite admittedly not knowing the meaning of the word at the time, there couldn’t have been a more definitionally perfect moment. I sat on top of that boat alongside a group of some of the most genuinely amazing people I had ever met in my life and truly felt elated as the light guitar strums and lightly pitched vocals provided a flawless soundtrack to the picture frame I was living in. In my present state of vacation-less frustration, “Elation” easily brings back crystal clear memories of that impossibly replicable snapshot of life. What a surprise, the common cure to emotional distress once again lies in the magic that is great music.