Jason Bradley’s “Our Troubled Hearts” single includes a lyric about aging and coming to terms with how the world really works. And when we say ‘works,’ we actually mean ‘doesn’t work very well.’ “Do you remember when we were young, and we didn’t care at all?” Bradley asks early in the song. Yes, the world likely had just as many pressing problems back during our younger years. But when you’re young, you think you’re invincible. You believe anything is possible. In other words, you’re quite naïve. This is a song about the sad end to naïve positivity.
Reality strikes hard with the line, “But we’re older now and inside us is a shifting soul.” This self reflection continues, “Our troubled hearts beat as one, one for all.” These revelations switch the narrative from ‘it’s all about me,’ to ‘it’s all about us.’ Young people think the world revolves around them and behave like they’re the center of the universe. Age teaches them that the world doesn’t, in fact, circle their overrated being. Instead, they’re a part – albeit a small part — of the much larger universe.
Bradley is a rocker from Minneapolis, MN, and his sound is somewhat inspired by the grunge rock movement of the ‘90s. However, this particular track is softer than what one might think of as typical grunge rock. Yes, there are layered electric guitars on it, but these guitars play nicely with the vocals in such a way that it’s easy to hear Bradley’s melodic lead vocal over them.
The song begins with electric guitar providing a simple riff that mirrors the melody that follows thereafter. These guitars transition to lowered volume as Bradley begins to sing the song’s first verse. Although the recording’s words are not explicitly political, you can insert your least favorite world leader into the line, “Naked emperors speaking foolishness,” which is also a literary reference to the emperor’s new clothes story. It refers to someone that seemingly says obviously wrong things, yet the people still fall for these lies and/or stupid words. “And the strange thing is, everybody’s buying it,” we’re told. This speaks to how our social/political institutions are all upside down and backwards. How can someone buy these words when they’re as obvious as a naked person walking the streets? Bradley is, obviously, appalled.
The singing here is about as subdued as is its instrumentation. This is not an angry rant, but more of a disgusted reflection. It’s as though he’s looking at the world and stunned by what he sees. Although he doesn’t explicitly say so, you just have to believe he sometimes thinks he’s the only one that notices what’s going on. Yet such is our divided world, where each side of the political spectrum is convinced that their side is always correct, and the other side is, without fail, always incorrect.
This is a difficult song to take in because we all agree our world is messed up, but nobody seems to know how to fix it. How do we bring sides that are so far apart, back together again? Toward the track’s end, Bradley repeats “Bleedin’, bleed out:” four
times. These are the troubled hearts referred to in the song’s title, losing blood fast.
Yes, this is not a happy song, but “Our Troubled Hearts” may – hopefully – strike some as a musical call to action; one that helps heal our suffering world.