I have known the creator and sole member of Howlie–a “man and his guitar”, for years. It’s been great watching his substantial musical talent develop, coalesce and see him put it out for others to listen. I must admit that I don’t understand the depressive elements in much of his music., mostly the lyrics. Rather than reviewing the music (I’ll let you do that), I’d like to talk about the overall feel of worry, loneliness and eventual hopelessness. The suicide in this song seems to be just part of an overall sense of depression and anomie. Don’t worry, however, about Evan, the man behind Howlie, will succumb to such a fate. His position on depression is to accept it and learn to live with it. I’m glad this works for him, but I’m fairly sure it’s an unusual approach. Maybe it’s my personality–very non-depressed–and truth be told, rather afraid of it. It’s fair to say that I will do almost anything not to feel depression, which doesn’t happen often, luckily.
Actually, I don’t think it’s really luck. Depression was not unknown in my generation, unlike today’s youth, but it seemed rare. I would chalk it up to many factors, such as the difference in upbringing between Millennials and Boomers. It’s often said that the latter had a “cushy” lifestyle and it’s true, at least for whites. This allowed them to reject the 50’s regimentation and choose a lifestyle and philosophy invented by them, not their parents, a religion or the government. Suddenly their protests counted to presidents and politicians, so much so that Nixon wandered out into the crowd of demonstrators to talk. It was said that he babbled incoherently, which is not surprising; he had no idea what was happening. Most of his generation didn’t either.
When it came our (the Boomers) turn to take the reins, we were just as confused, but there was always a reservoir of joy, hope and a sense of the possible. Compare the relaxed exuberance of President Clinton’s inauguration to that of those that followed. Compare his ability to casually deal with a hostile Congress while creating the largest surplus in U.S. history.
With both Bushes, we saw bragging, chest-thumping and after 9/11, vague, macho promises to get” people (usually middle eastern terrorists. Other than the pathetic capture of Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with 9/11, the braggadocio and militarism was empty.
Then came the promise of Hope and tons of social reforms with President Obama, not to mention the sense of history-making wonder that a Black president was indeed possible. Shortly after that, however, the fury against terrorists–and the rampant fear–turned against almost everyone. When the absurd Trump ran for office, he used that fear to snake into the White House. Not just fear of terrorism, but of unemployment, immigrants stealing jobs and committing crimes, even fear of universal healthcare! He preyed on the poor, uneducated, prejudiced “victims” of right-wing propaganda and anti-government hysteria, among other fears.
A surprising thing happened. Millennials, whom almost everyone thought would slack off in their parents’ basements and play video-games while Washington burned, rose up instead and rallied behind the improbable candidate, Bernie Sanders, an old, Socialist curmudgeon now living in Vermont. If a Boomer could have hand-picked a candidate for their child, like choosing a date, it would have been Bernie…except for one thing: our experience had taught us what radicals like John Reed, back in the 1910’s had known: a Socialist won’t get elected in the United States. If it was highly unlikely a few months ago, it is now in the realm of fantasy, given the horror that Trump is actually president.