A few months ago, I was driving in my car and I heard a song on the radio. It was nothing short of divine intervention because the lyrics reminded me of lessons that I’ve learned and finally have understood. That’s been a recurring theme this year because ever since January, I “get it”. My vision for my life is completely visible and my self-awareness is extremely focused.
The song I heard was by John Mayer, off of his new album “Born and Raised”; the name of it was “Shadow Days”. I’ve loved his music for several years now; something about his sincere lyrics remind me of James Taylor. I felt like I had discovered another “Aspie” song!
What’s an “Aspie” song? Well, for me, it’s a song that I feel could have been written by or for a person on the Autism Spectrum; even more so when I feel like it was written about me. “Shadow Days” has the words that describe what the past year has been like for me: the words that best describe what’s inside my soul and what I want the world to know. I wonder if this song also describes what other boys and young men on the Spectrum are feeling? Well, I can only hope!
A smooth tempo carries the song with a finesse worthy of a James Taylor piece. The blend of an electric “Beatles” sound with both acoustic and steel guitar blends the melodies of folk music with modern rock without being too obvious. Lyrically, I sense a clarity and bravery on John’s part; I feel like he’s confessing his faults with a thicker skin and putting forth that he’s ready to begin a new chapter in his life. I know that I’ve done the same after years of easy and hard lessons learned.
The first verse describes how I used to cling to false assumptions and the need to be right all the time. “Did you know that you could be wrong and swear you’re right? Some people been known to do it all their lives. But you find yourself alone just like you found yourself before, like I found myself in pieces on the hotel floor…hard times have helped me see…“. All the years of feeling like I wasn’t “normal” left me with a desperate need to be right about something, even when I knew deep down that I was wrong. That is a hard lesson for any Aspie to learn; it’s even hard for neurotypicals. Now that I’ve taken it to heart, I’ve been broken open to allow my true self to emerge for the world to see.
The most “autistic” lyrics to me are the second verse. “Well I ain’t no troublemaker, and I never meant her harm. But it doesn’t mean I didn’t make it hard to carry on. Well it sucks to be honest, and it hurts to be real. But it’s nice to make some love that I can finally feel…hard times let me be…” Here is how I would best describe coming to terms with my two failed relationships. I used to focus exclusively on what the woman did and forget to include my actions. It was difficult for me to admit my mistakes but I needed to own up to them in order to be free from the past. Now that I am, my heart is fully open to love. I don’t know when love will happen again but I know that it will and I’ll be ready for it.
At the center of the song is a chorus that is moving and poetic. “I’m a good man, with a good heart. Had a tough time, got a rough start, but I finally learned to let it go. Now I’m right here, and I’m right now, and I’m open, knowing somehow that my shadow days are over. My shadow days are over now.” How else do I describe myself today? This is me put to words: I know what kind of person I am and it’s taken me a long time to know what I want to do with my life. I’m aware enough to leave the past behind and a dark fog has been lifted from my mind. No matter what happens I can face the world and come out stronger every day.
It’s true that art has a way of imitating life. This song could have been written about me with all of the words that resonate with me in the present moment. Has that ever happened in your life? Have you ever heard a song that you could relate to so well that it was nothing short of a miracle? Well, it happened when I heard this song; it touched me on such a personal level that it felt like divine intervention. I couldn’t have found a better song if I had tried, and just knowing that the world around me is becoming a reflection of my authentic self is proof that I have come a long way from my shadow days.