Video: Phosphorescent – “Revelator”
From Revelator, out April 5 on Verve.
I was a pretty good dad when my son was a newborn. I had been warned that new parents don’t get any sleep for that first year but that wasn’t my experience at all. We had a system. He slept in a little bassinet in our bedroom and when he’d wake up in the middle of the night, I’d get up and change his diaper and hand him to my wife and immediately konk back out while she nursed him. When they were done she’d hand him back to me and I’d change his diaper and put him back in his bassinet and immediately konk. Even if this happened four times in a night I was losing maybe a total of an hour of sleep. No biggie.
I was a great dad when my son was a toddler. We’d sit on the floor do puzzles and play with cars and trains and read Richard Scarry books. And Jamberry. And Is Your Mama a Llama? So many books. I talked to him all the time. I’d make up stupid songs. He learned to speak super early and was pretty articulate by the time he was three. He was so smart. He knew all 50 states and once chewed a Pop Tart into the shape of Minnesota. He could do basic addition and subtraction. We watched Planet Earth and he loved the “Ocean Deep” episode with all the spooky anglerfish and siphonophores. He used the word “bioluminescence” correctly.
I was a good dad when my son was in elementary school. I read to him every night before bed. We’d go to the library and the bookstore all the time. He had a million books but his favorite was The Pokémon Essential Handbook that listed all 646 known species in alphabetical order with their moves, height, weight, and evolutionary chain. I helped him read the BOB books, even when it was hard for him. I promised that one day it would be easy and he wouldn’t even have to think about. “Remember how hard it was to zip up your jacket at first? And now you just do it.” I drove him to all his activities: cub scouts, swim lessons, basketball, tae kwon do, snowboarding lessons, lacrosse. So many activities.
I was an alright dad when my son was in middle school. He played the cello and got pretty good although encouraging him to practice was always a struggle. Just before schools shut down for covid he’d made first chair. During covid I had hoped we’d spend some quality time together. Seemed like everybody on Facebook was enjoying all the family time. But my son preferred to play videogames online with his friends. And since he couldn’t see them in real life it seemed reasonable. But I was watching him slip away, not needing me as much.
I’ve been a pretty lousy dad since my son’s been in high school. I’m grouchy. Easily frustrated. I yell a lot. He spends most of his time in his room and isn’t particularly interested in hanging out with his old man. I get it. I’m sure I felt the same when I was his age. And since he’s gotten his driver’s license and a girlfriend, I see him even less. It hurts my feelings but instead of dealing with that I just resent it. Not super healthy. And when we get in an argument over typical teenage power struggles, etc. and he lashes out like a grumpy disrespectful teenager, I respond in kind. Except I’m not a teenager. I’m an adult and I should know better. It’s not great. It’s exhausting and terribly sad.
What’s any of that got to do with the first new original Phosphorescent song since 2018’s C’est La Vie? I don’t know. But Matthew Houck knows a thing or two about being exhausted and feeling broken.
I got tired of sadness
I got tired of all the madness
I got tired of being a badass all the time
It’s only survival.
People tell me the teenage years are tough and your kids eventually come back around and treat you nice again. I hope that’s true. And I hope I’m not irreparably fucking it up in the meantime.