Dandelions by Five Iron Frenzy

Quantity Is Job 1Track: Dandelions
Album: Quantity is Job 1
Artist: Five Iron Frenzy
Genre: alternative, indie, rock, ska
Music Rating: 10/10
Lyrics Rating: 10/10
Sounds Like: heaven, my childhood
Interesting Fact: The band broke up in 2003. I wept. They came back like Brad the trumpeter in 2011. I wept. Then I battle-danced unicorns with glitter.
Bonus Fact: This was the first song that made me realize that music could speak the language of my soul. This was the first album that I knew every single word to. Five Iron Frenzy was the first concert I ever went to that I didn’t have to wear a dress to (I’m talking classical, y’all). The band members were amazing, and one of the guitarists came out into the crowd to talk to me between sets. I think it subconsciously inspired me years before I decided to play guitar.
Best thing About this Track: Um, its existence??? Don’t ask me stupid questions. There are horns and guitar and bass and drums. It’s a song! An amazing song! With words! Amazing words! And it’s on an album! AN AMAZING ALBUM!!!!!
One thing I wish was different: I wish the whole world knew this song. No wait! I have one: I really, really, really, really wish this album was available on vinyl. Somebody make it happen. Please?
Website: Five Iron Frenzy

Today, I’m going to do something a little different. I had an experience recently that made me feel a strong need to pay homage to the song that planted the seed of music in my soul. Music has always been a major part of my life, but last week something happened that reminded me of a very specific moment in my early life that really triggered something deep within me and awoke me to the world of music. First let me set the scene with an abridgment of my musical autobiography:

I don’t know if it is because I am from a large family or because I am from my family, but my life was separated into distinct musical eras dictated by the current family dynamic. Both of my parents were musicians, and music was always the heart and soul of our home. It wasn’t optional, but it also was never forced on us. It just was. I think music was in our blood; we just had to go on our own individuals journeys to find it, and it found us each a little differently. My mother was a classically trained composer, and she also enjoyed easy-listening, new age celtic, and operas. My father grew up playing in a rock band, and he had classic rock & roll in his soul. Both of my parents were unendingly supportive of whatever type of music each of us kids were interested in. In group settings, the music we listened to was dictated by the eldest child. Nobody ever really said that; it wasn’t a conscious rule. That’s just what happened. My father’s car had a different radio station for each child, and whoever was the oldest one riding in the car, he’d tune in to their radio station without a word.

My musical identity has  taken pieces from each era, for which I am unendingly thankful to each member of my family. If you are not a fan of backstory, feel free to skip down to The End of Eras. It will be in bold.

The First Era of Music: 10BA — 8AB (BA = Before Anie, AB = Anie’s Birth)
Resumé: our monarch of this era played french horn and was drum major in marching band. She went on to play in symphonies in college and majored in music education.

My eldest sister was country to the core as a youth. I don’t know if it was because we lived in Texas and Virginia or because it was legitimately her jam, but I was only vaguely aware that other music existed during this era. I knew that my parents listened to different music, but it was ancient. We had old vinyl that I loved, but I also lamented that The Beatles weren’t a thing anymore. They weren’t currently making music. I missed it. And classical music just equated nap time to me. Country music was the entire world of current music to me. I liked it. I danced to it. I sang to it. But it did not put a fire in my soul.

The Second Era of Music: 8AB—10AB
Resumé: the king played trombone and slayed on piano. We all took lessons, but homeboy had it in his heart. He was also the first to start composing original music, and I don’t think anyone would argue the best out of all us kids.

When my eldest sister left home, I was heartbroken. We emailed all the time. Silver lining time: my oldest brother was a fan of ska music. It blew my freaking mind. If my big bro was a teenager today, he’d be so hipster. He and his best friend were always bringing home CD’s of random bands nobody had ever heard of. His musical taste usually had quite a healthy dose of humor in it as well. We’d all fall in love with the music, but when they hit mainstream, he and his buddies would kind of move on (remember “Sell Out” by Reel Big Fish? Good stuff). I still loved all the music. I about had a heart attack and died when “All Star” played during Shrek. I think the older folk kind of thought that it ruined the musical integrity, but I was stoked. I still sing “Road Man” at aggressive drivers, and I am not ashamed to admit it.

The Third Era of Music: 10AB — 13AB
Resumé: this monarch played trumpet. She also used to play Disney princess songs at the piano incessantly. I remember many hours longing to go play outside, but being stuck singing harmony or the prince’s part to Disney tunes. (I now treasure those memories. Thank you, sis!)

The next sister defaulted back to country music. I think it was a girly thing. The previous two eras were the only music she knew, and my brother never brought home any love songs. Sappy rom-coms and twang was her thang. There was no going back for me! I would sneak into my brother’s room and steal CD inserts (he left a lot of his stuff in his closet or under the bed for storage) to memorize lyrics so I could sing what I started calling “real music”. I was a rather pretentious ten year old.

The Fourth Era of Music: 13AB — 15AB
Resumé: this fine ruler also played french horn. Additionally, she played the radio with great skill (that was a legit skill; the thing was possessed). She introduced the digital era of music in our household and was the first to have an mp3 player, and eventually: iPod. 😮

Oh, bless this sister! What a beautiful era this was! It started out full-guns-blazing-jazz and big-band before it morphed over the years into alternative rock. Bless every moment of this beautiful time! Long live the Fourth Era of Music!

The Fifth Era of Music: 15AB — 15AB (I don’t even know where this fits in the timeline)
Resumé: this fearless musical leader played trumpet and tinkered a bit more with keys. He also tried his hand at music composition on piano.

My next big bro graduated early, so he and my sister (who were already ridiculously close in age) kind of left home about the same time. Nonetheless, he had his moment as the musical formative power in the home, even if it was just for about five minutes. When we were younger, both of us obsessed over the Second Era of Music together, but by this time, he’d matured and was all about classical.

My Musical Reign: 15AB — Death
Resumé: As a youth I played french horn in school and local symphonies, I took piano lessons (though I never excelled), and found my heart and soul in the guitar. I started writing music at the age of 13, and never looked back. I’ve also found a later love of bass guitar and ukulele (is the uke even a real instrument? I don’t know. It’s fun and happy and wonderful though). I have tried my hand at any instrument I could get my paws on and have developed an appreciation for each one to varying degrees. Here’s a list of instruments I’ve tinkered with, but would not consider myself proficient at: trumpet, mellophone, violin, banjo, mandolin, and keyboard.

I don’t have too much to say about this era, because y’all hear about it in every single post. This simply is my musical frame of mind, and I’ve tried to diversify it by taking lessons from all the brave, proud monarchs who’ve gone before me. I also tried very hard to curate music in my family’s home that I think my two younger sisters would appreciate. I like finding music to suit different people’s personalities. Because the different musical eras I lived through shaped me so much, I try to be pretty eclectic and open-minded.

Thus ends the abridged tale of an epic musical journey of a lifetime. Fine. <— That’s Italian, not a weird, passive-aggressive, cranky English sentence.

The End Of Eras – you can stop skipping now. We’ve gotten to the actual story. I promise.

Okay, seriously: I’m sorry for the long backstory, but it sets the stage for this song and the impact it had upon me. This actually happened during the First Era of Music, but was a brief and treasured window into the Second Era of Music. Each room in our house had a way to play music, and each radio/music player was controlled by the oldest child in the room. I shared a room with my ladies, but my two brothers had a secret Musical Era of Brotherhood that I was not privy to, as a member of another Room of Music. The radio I had access to was under the power of the monarch of the First Era of Music (long may she live and prosper!), but concurrent with that era was the Secret Musical Era of Brotherhood.

I accidentally caught a glimpse of it when my brother and I were playing Jacks on my older brother’s trombone case (Don’t judge me! It made a fantastic slide and was perfect for spin battles!). We were setting up an obstacle course for our brave warriors to run, and amidst our rearranging, I found a strange, mystical artifact that I had never happened upon before. It was a peculiar CD case with a giant robot and dancing beans. I instantly knew that I was Jack, and these were magical beans, from whence would grow a musical beanstalk up to the heavens where I would find both adventure and treasure beyond my imaginings. The younger of my two brothers (the only other person in the room) just brushed it off and told me it was a new CD that our second-in-command had just brought home. I would not be deterred. I was curious about this strange new artifact. And I was fresh outs the first grade, so I could read, son! So I opened that sucker up and started reading the lyrics. Then I demanded that this song be played. My brother was hesitant, but I assured him that he was the oldest one in the room, so: no problem! I was like: dude, when Big Bro’s gone, you’re king of the room! Play this sucker now! And he did. My life was never the same.

Can you imagine a whole life of honky-tonk heartbreak with one little speck of sunlight? This song shattered all notions I had of music, and just spoke to my soul. It warmed my heart and made me think. It wasn’t just a story or a complaint list (which are basically the two sub-generes of country music 😉). This was poetry. This was philosophy. This was what my heart said when it spoke to itself in whispered conversations in the dead of night. If this was music, I realized, then music is what my heart is made of. This is the language of my soul. This is at the core of who I am. Music is life to me.

From the bottom of my heart: thank you, Reese Roper, for introducing me to who I am. And thank you to all of the monarchs of the musical eras of my life for helping to make me who I am.

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In a field of yellow flowers
Underneath the sun
Bluest eyes that spark with lightning
Boy with shoes undone
He is so young, so full of hope
Reveling in tiny dreams
Filling up his arms with flowers
Right for giving any queen

Running to her, beaming bright
While cradling his prize
A flickering of yellow light
Within his mothers eyes
She holds them to her heart
Keeping them where they’ll be safe
Clasped within her very marrow
Dandelions in a vase

She sees love where
Anyone else would see weeds.
All hope is found.
Here is everything he needs

Fathomless your endless mercy
Weight I could not lift
Where do I fit in this puzzle?
What good are these gifts?
Not a martyr or a saint
Scarcely can I struggle through
All that I have ever wanted
Was to give my best to you

Lord, search my heart
Create in me something clean.
You see flowers in these weeds.

Gently lifting hands to heaven
Softened by the sweetest hush
A father sings over his children
Loving them so very much

More than words could warrant
Deeper than the darkest gloom
More than sacrifice could merit
Lord, I give my heart to you

Lord, search my heart
Create in me something clean.
You see flowers in these weeds.

Lord, search my heart
Create in me something clean.
You see flowers in these weeds.


3 thoughts on “Dandelions by Five Iron Frenzy

  • May 4, 2016 at 6:27 am

    This song really is the first song in my mind too! And I’m glad lasting good came from our game of Jacks – I got rebuked by 2nd Monarch for so casually using a trombone case that wasn’t mine. Seriously though, good memories 🙂

    • May 4, 2016 at 10:22 am

      I love you so much, big bro! I’m so glad you remembered this too!!! Good times.

  • May 5, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    I love the message and musical drive of this song! We so often see weeds where there is actually an over abundance of love! Anie, you know that from so many experiences! My memory of this particular song comes from the same time period, and I immediately was drawn to the message that also touched me in ways new musical ways, but, I must confess, not as deeply as your own, unique heart. Which I guess is the point!

    Thank you for sharing and for being wonderful you. I hope I can always see the love.


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