08/22/2012 06:00 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Music That Saves Your Life


Photo Courtesy of (c) Shout Out Louds

When I met the Swedish indie-band Shout Out Louds in Rome in 2008, during their European Tour for their new release "Our Ill Wills", I did what I normally do whenever I have the "once in a lifetime chance" to meet my favorite artists: I indulged in a bunch of slips, I put my foot in my mouth several times and my pronunciation became similar to the sound my cat made when affected by belly ache. "You were so gorgeous on stage" is what I told lead singer Adam Olenius right after the show, just like any teenager would do when casually running into a pop star, or into the guy who pretends to play guitar at the school ball. I was, however, way too old to be a teenager and what Adam Olsen and his gang had brought into my life was much more than a poster on the wall to keep me company in solitary moments of boredom.

What I meant by "You were so gorgeous on stage" actually was "Your lyrics keep saving me in the most depressing, traumatizing and infinite afternoons of my life", but the only sentence I was able to say probably led him to wonder why, since I was much too grown to be 16, I would come up with such a statement or, most likely, to not think anything at all. The concert had been just perfect, the venue not so much, but I had thankfully forgotten about my company and I had enjoyed every single note that came from the band. I can easily summarize what these guys helped me deal with and did for me, with one album, in three concepts: Dysfunctional Relationship, Law School and Eating Disorders.

A dysfunctional relationship is the one I was in when the album "Our Ill Wills" came out and, as it often happens, sympathetic and emotional souls tend to relate to songs they come in contact with, doesn't matter if those tunes are about sailing on the beaches of Normandy, where those souls have in fact never been, or losing all of their friends in an accident. If your heart is aching, but yet you have no strength to put yourself out of misery, there's nothing better than a couple of chords while running by the sea to make you think that tomorrow you will let go, because that's exactly what you want to do. All of a sudden, a piece like "You are dreaming" with its "I am listening, I am all ears, but if you still believe I am thinking of you you're dreaming" perfectly represents what you believe your tomorrow will be like, you just need to realize how to put things together and finally push them away.

Law School is the school I was attending when "Our Ill Wills" came out. Picking that faculty was one of the unhappiest choices of my life, it brought me down into a circle of terror and sense of inadequacy because I couldn't excel in it like I wanted to but I was far too close to the end to be brave enough to quit and choose something else. So, as my tears went down and the number of dry notions I had to memorize went up, all I could do was listen to my favorite Swedish folks sing, while hoping an incredibly high fever would have prevented me from taking that oral exam the following day. Just like a perfect six-year-old that is pretending to have flu in order to avoid school, I was pathetically prone to lie to myself in the mirror in 50 different languages to convince myself that going to take the exam was not only wrong, but unacceptable. I would obviously go to take the exam and I would usually have a sort of panic attack that would result in a complete lack of memory and consequent failure. To this day, I can remember the face of the assistant professors that wouldn't let me pass my exams, condemning me to see those same arrogant faces that I hated so much, again.

A procrastinated and unsolved eating disorder, resulting from the stress coming from the aforementioned scenarios, was what I was dealing with when "Our Ill Will" came out. What I wonder the most is if one is unhappy before having an eating disorder or becomes unhappy as a consequence of the eating disorder. Either way, at the age of 22, I was still struggling with an embarrassing and tedious situation that had been the allied of my darkest moments in my teenage years. I would oscillate between denial and acceptance, being opened about the matter just to retreat a few seconds later. "How can anybody be ashamed and proud of what's going on at the same time?" was the question I asked myself the most, but while I did ask myself that question, "Our Ill Wills" played on my stereo and filled me with hope.

I can easily say I smile now when I'm listening to the Shout Out Louds' "Our Ill Wills" and as cheesy as it sounds, four years after I discovered that album, my personal situation can be reassumed in three concepts: Happily Ever After, Happily Graduated, Happily In Love With My Figure.