If It’s the Beaches… (Context)


If it’s the beaches
If it’s the beaches’ sands you want
Then you will have them
If it’s the mountains’ bending rivers
Then you will have them

— from the album, The Gleam


That’s a line from a little song that people who go to Avett Brothers concerts like a lot. They will ask their other Avett-Brother-fan friends, “Hey, did you get to hear beaches live? He played it at our show in Asheville last month!” I think that people like the line because it sounds romantic and sweet. “I will move mountains for you!” he says, loosely interpreted. You can get the quote handwritten on little DIY-type things on Etsy if you want. And there is a lot of emotion in the song, too. They are very good with words in my opinion.

An interesting thing about this line is that taken in context with the rest of the song, the meaning can feel completely different. If you knew that this guy was begging a girl not to leave him and asking if she wanted this cute sounding promise or for him to help her pack the car to leave him, would the line be as romantic? Apparently the context in which something is said can make quite a difference. Context, by definition, is all of the circumstances and details surrounding a thing that is said or done. This is kind of like, “what caused you to say that?” or “what were you trying to accomplish by doing what you did?” or “what was going on at the time?”.

You will usually hear someone tell you that you are taking a thing out of context so then you obviously can’t really get whats going on. This would be like reading a line from some story, “Sirius pushed his chair roughly aside and strode around the table towards Snape, whipping his wand out as he went; Snape whipped out his own.” Without knowing anything about Harry Potter or magic, you might think there are some dirty things about to go down right? In this case, the point is simply that things can seem different from how they were intended, often times silly, when heard by someone outside of the situation at hand, or maybe when repeated back to someone later who wasn’t there.

But it can also mean that you are handed this picture, out of context, or without knowing the frame of reference from which is was taken:


Here, without knowing where a person was coming from or what was happening at the time, you are getting an illusion of the truth. If you would have known that they were taken in San Fransisco and aligned with the road which is actually what is sloped, you might not assume that those hoses are falling over and unlivable. Here, again, the one perceiving the information doesn’t know what’s going on so they might assume a thing that isn’t necessarily true.

You might think A CNN headline on the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson was written out of context, in that they have omitted circumstantial facts in order to make the story seem to align with their political views or even to get more people to click on the link and read it, as sad as that may sound. In this example, context is relevant in that it seems as if it can be manipulated for a given situation to give a false sense of truth. One might then assume that you can set up a situation so that it works well to a certain audience or at a certain time or for a specific reason by blurring the context, when in reality it is not a truth.

This line of thought kind of struck me when I was thinking about that beaches song. This dude said something to a girl that sounded great at the time because he was trying to get her back right? It can really take away from the song, if he is manipulating her perception of context by way of a heated emotional exchange so that she interprets what he is saying to mean what he wants her to have it mean. And then, on top of that, now you have all of those Avett-Brother-fans swooning over a quote on their hand stitched pillow, when if they would consider the context, they might reconsider setting the pillow out in the first place. Maybe I need to look into this a bit more, I am not sure what he is really saying here anymore.



So now we have to be aware of and consider the situational relevance of any and all information presented, to the best of our ability. Otherwise we are setting ourselves up to be deceived or to be manipulated. You would buy anything that CNN or Harry Potter fan who is messing with you or a desperate boyfriend put in front of you.  Being able to see the truth in things can take work, but I think considering the context might help…


MUSIC THAT MATTERS: You probably think you could guess my music of the day this time around right? You have picked up on the context clues. I spelled it out with my opening quote, You read my blog and you know what I like. So let’s see how you did. The music that matters this week is an incredible and funky group known as Galactic. Not the Avett Brothers.


GEOCACHING UPDATE: So have made no attempt to find any caches since my last post. For that I am not sorry. I am standing by my word and waiting to get back home to Dana in order to log the number 400 milestone with her by my side. But you all logged on and are here reading my blog so I won’t leave you empty-handed. Fair warning though, If you plan to cache in the Netherlands any time soon, or are from there, SPOILERS ahead.

I read about this one the other day and it was pretty impressive so I thought I would share. According to this YouTube video, curious cachers have to use clues to decipher a combination, then find the “container” using the traditional mystery style coordinates, then open a combo lock to get the key. Next they must unlock the box with the key and there is this big Frankenstein head in it with flashing lights and the whole works, and it talks or has a note or something (this is not in English, mind you). You have to then get jumper cables and use your running car battery, hooked up to the bolts in his head, to make a little bison tube geocache come up out of the bottom on this pedestal. All I have to say about that is, whaaaaaaaat???


FULL CIRCLE: Here’s the rest of the story, thanks to a fellow fan of music on Reddit:

Scott Avett wrote the song, If It’s the Beaches, about himself and his girlfriend at the time. The voice recording in the middle of the song is actually a message she left for him at the time. But today the two are still very happily married. She didn’t get in that car and leave and he has stuck to his promise. So really, in this case, did context really matter? Was he manipulating anyone? Maybe he was in a pickle and begging for his girl to stay with him, but does it really change what he is saying? He promised this girl that he would do whatever it takes to make it work out with her. Maybe it took a certain situation to bring that out of him but what he said turned out to be true and she was able to identify that. It is NOT taking the quote out of context then, in relation to the rest of the song, if the quote stands true, no mater what the circumstances. What is happening here is that there are truths, that can withstand all of this context distortion. Some things are just true, as far as most reasonable people would care to argue at least. The sky is blue, I enjoy writing this blog, and Scott Avett would do anything in the world for his wife.


All this  over-thinking and blogging about this little song has really made me appreciate it more. I hope that I can both get better at seeing things that happen to me and in my life in proper context, and to identify the truths in this world that hold true no matter what the situation. I am pretty sure that is the take-away here. But for now, I am going to go listen to that song again, maybe get that quote engraved on something. If I do, I will know in my heart that I am not saying “I’d get the beaches for you” to be cute or for a smile, or to end an argument. It is something that I believe to be true, no matter what the context.




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