Personal Record Entry #2 Pedro the Lion "It's Hard to Find a Friend"
That David Bazan only plays two songs from “It’s Hard to Find a Friend” these days, is a testament to his honesty as a songwriter. The songs on that album aren’t silly love songs or vacuous commentary. They’re thoughtful and introspective. He seems to be feeling his way through some struggle by writing and singing about it (as he will continue to do for years to come). And since that’s the case, it’s natural that he’d want to move on. Sure, a lot of bands don’t perform many songs from earlier albums. How many things did you do at 22 that you want to be reminded of on a regular basis, much less sing about them night in and night out. The difference is David Bazan doesn’t play those songs and sing those words because they aren’t true anymore.
David Bazan basically is Pedro the Lion, a revered indie rock band that put out 5 EPs and 5 full-lengths between ‘95 and 2004. (He just released a new album, “Phoenix” earlier this year!) He’s not all that well known, but to me and others like me, he’s a big deal. His “Whole” EP was passed around Liberty dorm rooms in the late-nineties like drugs (if there had been drugs at Liberty). The lyrics seemed Christian, but it wasn’t Christan Rock and it wasn’t Creed. It was good.
“The Secret of the Easy Yoke”
I have to start here. This song is a powerhouse. An absolute game-changer for evangelical kids dipping a toe into the “real-world” and starting to question some stuff. The first time I heard the song was in an Audio Production class my Junior year. We were all asked to bring in a song to be played on the professor’s CD player and discuss what we noticed/liked about the production of it. This guy played “The Secret of the Easy Yoke” and didn’t talk about the production at all. Just how we should all listen to the lyrics. He explained what they meant to him. He didn’t seem shaken. He seemed liberated.
But if all that's left is duty
I'm falling on my sword
At least then I would not serve
An unseen distant lord
Could someone please tell me the story
Of sinners ransomed from the fall
I still have never seen you
And some days I don't love you at all
Even if you grew up being told “it’s ok to question,” these are shocking lyrics. You didn’t even say stuff like this in your head.
I think this song is about disappointing your dad, or God, through some sort of sexual sin, or just lust. Maybe just a waning of faith. But the part where he sings, “Dad, I broke my promise to you…” then “I understand, son” is touching. You feel like David is admitting to something he’s doing (writing? singing?), and hopefully, that God, or in fact his dad, who is a pastor, shows him grace. That’s what I took from it. And it has a lovely, heavy guitar-chime, lullaby feel to it that was irresistible to me - and still is.
“Suspect Fled the Scene”
OK, this is the last heavy one, then we’ll get to some fun ones. “Suspect Fled the Scene” seems to take the point of view of someone being forced to leave a church for an unnamed shameful deed. I remember it feeling strange to want to empathize with such a person. That should tell you something about my overall perspective in 1998.
He still plays this ditty at shows. It’s an upbeat, catchy song that finds a father gently reprimanding his son about patience. It foreshadows the God/father/son theme of the rest of the album. It’s probably the most popular Pedro the Lion song, and used to be my go-to for burned-CD mixes.
“When They Really Get to Know You They Will Run”
A feminist defense of keeping things natural, with a sense of humor.
Every Pedro the Lion album and every David Bazan album have been important to me, but this was the one that made me latch onto his songs like imperfect buoys in uncharted waters. I don’t know that David Bazan is necessarily right or wise, but he has been bold enough to tell us what he’s thinking and how he’s changing, even when that has meant losing an audience. Even when it’s meant disappointing family. Even when it’s made friends really hard to find.