#6: The Employed – I Come Alive
This track comes from the 2012 album Vulnerable, and let me just kick this off by talking a tiny about that album title. Yes, it is super on-the-nose, but it also gets to the heart of the band, the a single defining characteristic of their music. The Used’s lyrics never sugarcoat or hide from hard topic matter, they discuss drug issues and self harm and sex in all their gritty reality, they’re frank about their feelings in surprising methods. Vulnerable is exactly how I’d describe their music at its core, and it’s nice to see them acknowledging that here.
This album is really sturdy, and it is hard to pick just 1 track – honourable mention goes to the really catchy ‘Put Me Out’ – but I Come Alive says some thing about the band that chimes with my selections so far. We’re coming to the end of our week with each other now, and this song recalls the first a single I chose.
Maybe Memories was a song about getting alive in spite of trauma, and acknowledging that life in a defiant and celebratory way. I Come Alive is a more mature song, with the lyrics coming to the realisation that “at the edge” is when the writer (Bert/persona) is at their most alive – when issues are going wrong, when tragedy strikes, is when they are most aware of their vitality.
Like most The Utilized tracks, this is ambiguous and complex – is the singer revelling in their potential to bounce back from trauma and “come alive when [they’re] falling down”, or describing their enjoyment of self-destruction? It’s completely up to the listener, and my interpretation of it adjustments based on what I need to hear on any provided day: each sentiments ring accurate to me as a reckless person who regularly courts disaster, and there’s anything really freeing about hearing somebody else acknowledging that sensation of becoming the most yourself when everything is falling apart about you.