Brooklyn, Brooklyn, take me in.If there's one song that can make me shush my wife and halt our conversation mid-word as I start to sing (a marital move I do not make lightly, nor one that she accepts unbegrudgingly), it's when The Avett Brothers start to sing "I and Love and You." I love my wife, but for those five minutes I love The Avett Brothers with a passion that defies the common sense of marital relations. Risking a future booking on The Dr. Phil Show (or, in an earlier age, a frying pan to the skull), all talk must stand still as I close my eyes halfway and tip back my head to ballad-croon along with this band of brothers.
Are you aware the shape I'm in?
My hands they shake, my head it spins.
Being the husband I am, and loving my wife for a lot longer than five minutes, I usually stop somewhere on the third verse, apologize with my eyes and blurt, "Okay, now what were you saying?"
Scott and Seth Avett have been around for nearly a decade, touring their asses off, recording on small boutique labels, and building a dedicated army of fans; but, like most everybody else, I came to the party only just this past year when they released their first major-label album, produced by the legendary Rick Rubin. I was smitten at the first piano chords of "I and Love and You," which begins with the forlorn lover leaving a note and then hitting the road, the highway wind whipping tears into his eyes as he thinks of all he's unable to say to the woman he leaves behind, the regrets flashing by like billboards. (Kind of like my own regrets around Verse Three, actually.)
By the time the song upshifts into harmonic crescendo around the three-minute mark, I am nothing but a puddle of jelly on the floor. I don't think even my wife completely understands how through-and-through this song gets to me. Besides, she's probably still stinging from that insistent "Hush!"
Dumbed down and numbed by time and age.
Your dreams, the catch, the world, the cage.
The highway sets the traveler's stage.
All exits look the same.
Three words that became hard to say:
I and Love and You.
I think Paste Magazine said it best:
The Avetts could’ve made some kind of caterwauling record full of flaming banjoes, hootenannies, and throaty hollers that encapsulates their reputation-making live show. In fact, that would’ve been a pretty damn sensible move as far as introductions go. Howdy, we’re the Avett Brothers. We’re gonna hillbilly-rock you like you’ve never been hillbilly-rocked before.
Instead they’ve constructed something beautiful. An album that’s not merely loaded with ballads, it’s almost wall-to-wall epic ballads. Pianos trickle before the storm, strings ball up their fists, swells and waves of sound wash over the Avetts’ sorghum-sweet harmonies. And this is just in the first song, a goose-bump engorging title-track that could by itself inspire a legion of new fans.
If you'd like to purchase "I and Love and You" from Amazon, CLICK HERE.
P.S. This song goes out to the one who always makes those three words easy to say--because they're so true.
P.S.S. Yes, that was me putting a few coins in the Husband Bank.