It Holds Up: Jack’s Mannequin – The Glass Passenger

Posted: by The Editor

There’s a certain breed of nostalgia that acts as a blanket, enveloping my entire being with warmth and comfort. Within that moment, my present day anxieties and dilemmas are rendered irrelevant. For me, Jack’s Mannequin elicits this.

September 30 marks the ten year anniversary of the release of the band’s second album, The Glass Passenger. It’s integral to note that this album was composed in the wake of lead singer Andrew McMahon’s battle with leukemia, as some of the lyrics echo hopelessness and overcoming struggle.

In “Hammers and Strings (A Lullaby),” he poses the question “Lately, I’m not dreaming/So what’s the point in sleeping?” In “Bloodshot,” he’s about ready to succumb when he exclaims “the hill still left to climb is just so high/and I’m so tired.

McMahon continuously scrapes by an admittance of defeat, but manages to hold himself upright. He declares in “The Resolution” “I don’t need a witness to know that I survived,” but no track on the album encapsulates perseverance more succinctly than “Swim.”

McMahon transforms swimming into a metaphor for pushing through whatever life pummels your way. He urges us to “swim when it hurts” and to “swim for the lost politicians who don’t see that greed is a flaw.” This track can resonate with people undergoing a bevy of struggles.

I treat the lyric “I swim for brighter days despite the absence of sun” like an extra bandaid, tucking it away for whenever I need it. It’s common to become so deeply trapped in despair over the present that you fail to see the potential of the future. Even if it feels as though there’s nothing to look forward to, it’s crucial to remember that your future hasn’t occurred yet, meaning it can consist of whatever you desire.

This heaviness is contrasted by a few tracks that embody a whimsical spirit. “Drop Out – The So Unknown” details an escape from present day, opening with “I am taking you with me/Where we can contemplate our chemistry” followed by “our friends will write us letters/They’ll never understand why we don’t call.” What McMahon is describing teeters on kidnapping, but I credit him for repackaging it as romance.

“Miss California,” too, takes on a free spirited nature by checking off the stereotypes that idealize California and its natives – beachside boxcars, bleached hair and the ephemerality of a summer fling. (McMahon himself resides in California.)

The Glass Passenger taught me that even the most arduous of times are never permanent. I am indebted to McMahon for teaching me that I’m stronger than I believe.

Bineet Kaur | @hellobineet

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