Review of Busman’s Holiday: A Long Goodbye
Busman’s Holiday is Lewis and Addison Rodgers, two brothers whose second album, A Long Goodbye, entered the music world with only a guitar and a suitcase drum set in its tool belt. But under the shroud of low publicity–and what some would call overly simplistic (dare I say minimalist?) production–lies an album laden not only with musical elegance, but also lyrics that often give the listener reason to pause and think.
Very few artists are blessed with the ability to convey wisdom in their lyrics, and this skill becomes even rarer still with every passing release whose substance lies only in catchy rhythm and lyrics whose only lasting quality is that which allows them to get stuck in the head of the listener. But Busman’s Holiday has taken a step in the opposite direction, writing an album about their lives, my life, everyone’s life. In their songs about family, self-security, mortality, and love they have found that the specific is the general, and that one person’s experience is often everyone’s experience.
Each song finds a way to connect on a personal level, and in these connections there is always guidance and wisdom waiting for the listener who takes the time to actually listen. And this wisdom is not always what we want to hear, either. In their song “Child Actor” they sing, “Dilapidated motor home / you left me so alone / dilapidated motor home / telephone sing dial tone. / The TVs grow dimmer / as families eat dinner alone. / Don’t they think of my future / the person they brought into this home?” It is certainly not easy for some to be reminded of the family that was never a family, but the reminder is a necessary one if we want to take the life journey that A Long Goodbye asks us to participate in. And, if we take even the briefest of moments to listen, we find that Busman’s Holiday does not blame the normal culprits for the deteriorating family. And in our realization of their condemnation of entertainment culture, some of us look back and remember, with new perspective, the childhood we thought we knew.
But before we can dwell on regret or whatever emotion this reminiscence of childhood instills in us, we are whisked away to another stage of life. The album continues through dreams and loneliness, reassurances and love. But near the end we find songs which are especially powerful, and which very forcefully takes us out of the doldrums of life’s disappointments and into a place where our worries are given a place to rest. In their song “We are We” they say, “We are we / oh you are you / oh show me something that you do / oh show me something that is
true / oh only if you want to / yeah that’s not my problem.” The lyrics speak louder than our regrets, than our opinion of others, and they convey to us some of the greatest things about human relationships. They say, in my estimation, that we are all flawed people, that we are all different people, and that the greatest gift we can give or receive is our own experiences and the experiences of others. A Long Goodbye cannot promise happy endings or the solutions to life’s problems. However, with a little effort, it can give the listener insight through the experiences of the songwriters. And, with quite a bit of searching and listening, the album can even show us where we are, and, more importantly, where we can be.
Jimmy Provenza is a senior at Flagler College studying Business Administration and Economics. Although he is not pursuing any English related majors or minors, he is passionate about music, literature, and poetry in particular.