Against Me!, Expo 5 / KrazYFest, May 20, 2011, Louisville KY
Rolling Stone Magazine announced on Tuesday that Against Me! singer Tom Gabel is transgender, and plans to begin living as a woman soon, taking the name Laura Jane Grace.
I’ve revisited the bulk of the band’s later catalogue since reading the news, which grants a vastly new context to the records from Searching for a Former Clarity onward. To be honest, the knowledge has made those albums more interesting, and more enjoyable.
Searching… was a concept album about death, and the lyrics of the following albums took a turn toward the narrative. But they were also marked by serious identity issues — of the band, of the characters, even of “confessing childhood secrets/ of dressing up in women’s clothes/compulsions you never knew the reasons to.”
Even when they were good, I thought that the songs lacked some of the naked honesty that had made Against Me! a favorite years before. Turns out they were more honest than I could have realized at the time.
How strange we think we know anything about those whose voices are on our records, or in our books — or about anyone, really. Everything is more complex than it appears, and for that, life is more beautiful.
— GET FOCUSED