Jimmy Eat World has been one of those bands that has been a staple for me ever since I started listening to "good" music. I know that's a subjective term, but you get the point: that time when I stopped only caring about Disney Channel pop and started expanding my musical horizons. I think it was my freshman year of high school that I found myself in the second row at Club Zoo (lol) with one of my best friends seeing Jimmy Eat World play a show with a then-basically-unknown X Ambassadors. I walked into that show one of the youngest in the room and left unbelievably inspired-- by both bands nonetheless.
Today "Integrity Blues" was released and I spent the day listening to it on repeat and absorbing the words, the music, the product. Even the artwork is incredible. But more than anything, I felt myself connecting to this record more so than I've connected to a record in a long time. It's funny how that works-- Jimmy Eat World is a band full of 40 year old men and yet I think I relate more to this album than what Taylor Swift writes, and that's literally directed toward the demographic that I just so happen to fit.
That being said, I decided to dive a little deeper into the album by reading an endless amount of interviews with the band, specifically with singer Jim Adkins, to get inside his head about the record.
"Integrity Blues" is one of my favorite songs that I've ever written. Sometimes doing everything you can, in the best way you know how, that can feel like lonely work. But the only way out of that is action, and "Integrity Blues" is a song about coming to terms with all the things that you've decided are going to do it for you in life. It's a common theme in the record, which is why it's the title track.
You have these expectations of validation from relationships, or a job or self-medication, this feeling of, "This is going to do it," and none of it really does. Those are all very fleeting things. If you pin your self-worth and happiness on finish-line-type goals, you're always going to set yourself up for disappointment. Because once you achieve them, once your partner comes back to you, once you get that job, now what ... you're done? That idea of integrity mattering is that you can accept that the best any of us have is to always be in a state of progress. That doesn't mean that you're always going to be happy, but happiness is one of those finish-line-type goals. The point isn't to be happy all the time. The point is to sustain yourself in a way that makes you feel good about just being you.
I have always found myself seeking validation in the things I'm doing and yet, here I am, never feeling actually validated. There's always something else out there that I'll want. I'm constantly coming up with new ideas and dreams to chase and I expect that to maintain my happy state forever. But it won't. Dreaming big is great, but the reality of accomplishing everything I want to is slim, and I've never really been able to accept that. It's been a huge weight on my shoulders forever, that I'm only as good as my latest accomplishment and I'm only as happy as I am experiencing success. The point isn't to be happy all the time. This is almost relieving to hear from someone I admire so greatly. I've become really great at pretending everything is fine and dandy when I feel like things are falling apart and sometimes people who are used to seeing me so happy all the time don't know what to think when I'm blatantly unhappy.
Generally your ideal expectation is limiting sometimes. When you are so dead set on the thing that you want, you ignore a lot of the real things around you, when you’re in pursuit of some imaginary far off goal. Not that goals are bad or ambitions are bad, just that you are not paying attention to what’s happening around, but focusing on solely that goal can be a limiting way to live.
This thought plagues me a little bit daily. Extreme ambition comes at a cost and I've missed out on a lot of experiences because I've been so concentrated on goals to let myself live. I never had a "teenage rebellion" phase or anything of the sort because everything I did was so calculated because I only cared about the future and never lived in the moment. While I still struggle with this, I've come a long way. It's good to be ambitious, but I'm finally starting to enjoy the "now."
"Integrity Blues" is an album all about perspective, and to me, a lot of that means what you think you see in a person isn't all that they are. Jimmy Eat World's ninth album is truly one of my favorite releases in a long time because it just gets me. It speaks to me in the same way my body has been trying to, but the difference is that I'll listen to the music when I can't always listen to my heart.
Listen here: https://open.spotify.com/album/03hVtUfmQW3fhMbYoliIod