This is going to sound like a weird statement, but I get super excited when I stumble upon expressions of grief in popular culture.
I am not talking about those instances when something major has happened and the entire nation grieves the same loss. That’s different. What I’m talking about are subtle expressions of personal loss. Sometimes so subtle that if you haven’t been through grief yourself, you might not even notice them.
You: Really? That makes you super excited?
Me: I can explain.
There are a few reasons why I feel this way – three to be exact.
- Naturally, I like being able to relate to a song or a poem or a photograph.
- I like hearing how other people grieve, it makes me feel less weird.
- I’m happy that in a culture so quiet on issues of grief there are artists willing to talk about this very personal topic.
I particularly enjoy songs about grief because, unlike poetry or art, music appeals to everyone. That’s why today when I randomly stumbled upon a song about a guy who drives around his dead brother’s old pick up truck so that he can feel close to his memory, I thought to myself – I must blog about this song immediately!
I know that country music can be kind of a polarizing genre – most people either love it or hate it – but try to put that aside for the purposes of this discussion. Also, for the purposes of this discussion lets assume he’s singing about his brother. I thought it was about his father at first but in the last chorus he says “Yeah, sometimes, brother sometimes” so I’m going to assume that was a literal ‘brother’.
The singer describes the truck, giving us the impression that it’s pretty much just as his brother left it. He hasn’t even changed the radio station. His description gives you the feeling that the vehicle was an extension of his brother while he was alive; something that has been used by him so much and so well that it became a real part of him – like the Velveteen Rabbit of pickup trucks.
If you think about your loss, perhaps a significant place or object like this comes to mind. Some place or thing that, at least at first, seemed impossible to alter because that would be like losing a piece of the person.
Preserving property serves a purpose because it makes us feel closer to our loved ones memory; yet many of us wonder what holding on to these things says about us. Does it mean we are stuck? Does it mean we are crazy? Well, not usually. The symptoms of complicated grief don’t exactly include an unwillingness to rearrange furniture or give away objects. Most often all this means is that we want to hold on to something that helps us remember a person who we loved
Anyway, the singer has his brother’s old truck and whenever he is struggling he hops in and tears around town. He says he drives around town until the pain is gone. You can just picture him simultaneously angry and sad, pausing through tears to switch gears.
I love how real and personal his depiction of grief and subsequent coping feels. In fact his method of coping is so personal, it’s hard for others in his life to understand. His mother, he says, has asked him if he’s visited the grave but he implies he has not. He doesn’t feel his brother’s presence there, not in the same way that he feels it in the truck. The listeners are only privy to this information because he’s told us, others in his life probably have no idea that he’s privately grieving his loss in this way.
This song reminds us that we all have our own ways of coping. His way of coping is driving around in a dirty, beat up old pick up truck; hardly the typical image of a ‘grieving’ individual. But this is what works for him, and when it comes to grief there is no normal.
Thanks to NPR and a reader’s tip we now know the moving story behind this song. Read about it here or better yet listen to the story about how a father’s grief heard over the radio by a Nashville song writer inspired this awesome song:
Or at least read through the lyrics….
Lee Brice – I Drive Your TruckEighty-Nine Cents in the ash tray Half empty bottle of Gatorade rolling in the floorboard That dirty Braves cap on the dash Dog tags hangin’ from the rear view Old Skoal can, and cowboy boots and a Go Army Shirt folded in the back This thing burns gas like crazy, but that’s alright People got their ways of coping Oh, and I’ve got mine I drive your truck I roll every window down And I burn up Every back road in this town I find a field, I tear it up Til all the pain’s a cloud of dust Yeah, sometimes I drive your truck I leave that radio playing That same ole country station where ya left it Yeah, man I crank it up And you’d probably punch my arm right now If you saw this tear rollin’ down my on face Hey, man I’m tryin’ to be tough And momma asked me this morning I I’d been by your grave But that flag and stone ain’t where I feel you anyway I drive your truck I roll every window down And I burn up Every back road in this town I find a field, I tear it up Til all the pain’s a cloud of dust Yeah, sometimes I drive your truck I’ve cussed, I’ve prayed, I’ve said goodbye Shook my fist and asked God why These days when i’m missing you this much I drive your truck I roll every window down And I burn up Every back road in this town I find a field, I tear it up Til all the pain’s a cloud of dust Yeah, sometimes, brother sometimes I drive your truck I drive your truck I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind
Looking for more about grief and music? We have tons of posts on that topic – check out all of our grief and music posts.