I was on my morning walk today and on my playlist came up a song by Brandon Flowers called “Between Me and You.” Brandon is the lead singer for the band The Killers, who have been one of my favorite bands the last ten or fifteen years. But this song was off one of his solo albums, 2015’s The Desired Effect. It came out in the Spring of 2015 and it got me thinking about that time, April of 2015. It was just a few weeks before American Pharoah would start his run through the Triple Crown. A few weeks before my 35th birthday. And a few weeks after I called my last race as an announcer.
When I left Louisiana Downs in early April that year I drove back to Seattle, interviewed at Emerald Downs for that announcer job, and didn’t get it. I was heartbroken and angry and figured my time in racing was done. I deleted my twitter account, went off the map a little, and started driving Uber. While driving people all around the Seattle area I would usually just put a CD in and play it at a low volume. Well in mid May when Brandon’s album The Desired Effect came out, I bought it, and played it on a loop for weeks. It was poppy, cheery, and wonderful. But every time it got to Track 5, I’d turn it up just a little. And when nobody was in the car, I’d turn it up a lot. The song is called Between Me and You and there were some lines it that just punched me square in the gut. I’ve always gravitated towards music that makes me sad as opposed to that makes me happy. And this song made me so sad, but in the best way.
“All my life. I’ve been told. Follow your dreams. But the trail went cold.”
I was 35 and felt I’d come to the end of the line on my dream. Every time I heard that lyric in the song I thought “That’s me. The trail has gone cold. What the hell am I gonna do?” For the next six months the answer was I was gonna drive people around Seattle. I’ve said before on here driving that six months actually made me really appreciate the blessings I had to call races for nine years. I had an incredibly fun job for 9 years and got paid to do it. How fortunate I was. But at the time, I sure felt like a total failure. And as I applied for other announcing jobs, Turf Paradise, Lone Star, Zia, and others, I kept getting the “thanks so much for applying, we got many terrific applicants and we’re going with NOT YOU” emails. I just kept feeling worse about myself and my future. I applied for all sorts of jobs in so many other industries. It became clear that racing and announcing were probably over. Then I’d go back to that song again.
“I was just too proud to know. There’s a power in letting go. I never thought that it’d be so hard.”
There was a power in letting go. I think sometimes in my life I’ve held on to things just because they’re familiar. Racecalling became an identity and if I didn’t have that identity then I was a loser. People wouldn’t like me or care about me. The things we make up in our heads. Truth is anybody who liked me before would still like me. And those who didn’t, still wouldn’t. Regardless if I was an announcer or an uber driver or a bum.
“And I feel like I got nothing to show for this life that I’ve been wondering “What am I supposed to do? But I’m doing my best”
Three years later and when this song comes on I still relate to the lyrics, even though the circumstances are different. They aren’t job specific as much as trying to let go of other things in life that I’m maybe holding on to. Accepting what is and what still can be. Trying to find purpose at a different stage of life. Letting go of the idea of certain things that I grew up always assuming would happen and maybe won’t. Which is ok. There is a power in letting go.
I remember reading an interview with Brandon where he said he never likes to say exactly what his songs are about, because he wants people to make them about what they want. And I think that’s what I’ve done with this song. It’s meant different things to me at different times. And I’m sure next year and the year after that it’ll mean something totally different than it does now. I’ve always felt music