There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind. — C.S. Lewis
These words recently wandered across my radar, on a day I was struggling for inspiration. But life always seems to provide what you need if you only keep your eyes open long enough to see it, and so I’ve decided that Mr. Lewis’s words of wisdom are the perfect way to open this first blog post. Because after nearly 12 years of playing music together as Truckstop Souvenir, my husband Dennis James and I have decided to move on. We are leaving behind that moniker and taking on a new one — along with a new sound — as Society of Broken Souls.
Shedding a band name, a musical identity forged over more than a decade, was not an easy decision, nor one we took lightly. We had to consider many things, not the least of which was respect for the loyal fans who have stuck with us through the years. Or the prospect of potentially starting from scratch as we move forward, when, as they say, we aren’t getting any younger. Or the fact that, really, Truckstop Souvenir is a great band name — and anyone who has ever been charged with naming a band knows that writing, producing, and recording an album is a far easier feat than coming up with a band name.
It may have been a stop at the “World’s Largest Truck Stop” on I-80 in Iowa that pushed Dennis over the fence upon which we were perched. Because truck stops these days seem to have very little to do with the truck stops to which we were paying homage, the truck stops of the Great American Road Trip, with shot glasses from Tennessee and commemorative spoons from Kansas, sticky sweet pecan logs and weak-ass cheap coffee. Nor does the music playing in the truck stops these days, with its formulaic sound and trite and hackneyed lyrics, have any connection to what we hope our music is about.
And so, we made the decision to let go of an identity that no longer seemed to suit us and to move ahead with a new direction. A lot has happened in the 12 years since we began playing music together. A lot of incredibly good things and a lot of deeply challenging things. A lot of things we wish we could do over, a lot of things we wouldn’t change for anything. But through it all the one thing that has remained constant is our deep love for the power of the simple combination of words and music: the power to transform lives, to heal scars, to crumble facades, to offer strength, to give people the gift of seeing the world from a new vantage point.
Our heroes are the songwriters who do not fear the dark places of the human heart, who have no use for the anesthetized, sanitized, sugar-coated lyrics that stream from the radio on a daily basis. Our heroes are the writers who instead honor the entirety of our lives and the interplay of light and dark, and make powerfully beautiful music doing so.
“We read to know we’re not alone” was a quote given to Mr. Lewis by William Nicholson in his play Shadowlands. Those words resonated deeply with me when I saw the film adaptation many years ago. I would go one step further and say that we listen to songs to know we’re not alone. I know Dennis and I need — in the deepest, truest, most elemental way — a connection to music that matters. Of all the things we strive for in creating music, our yearning comes down to simply this: to offer that kind of connection, that kind of solace and camaraderie and redemptive revelry to all the gorgeous, broken souls out there. To let our listeners know that they are not alone.
February 24, 2015