I’ll never forget the first time I heard William Prince.
It was in the spring a few years ago. I was in a deep, deep, depression. Nobody knew, of course. Why would I tell someone? My wife and I had recently decided to move on to another church, after being involved in one for over twelve years. To say I was struggling would be an understatement. But I struggled in silence.
Michelle knew, though. She always knows. That’s the job of a wife. To know things.
I was conscripted to coach in our home school baseball program, which also happened to be held every Friday, rain or shine, at a park nearly an hour from my house. To add to my feelings of anxiety, a number of the people involved in this league were from that church1.
But every Friday was difficult. We’d pack the entire family up, rush to eat dinner on the road, or just stop for fast food afterwards. And it was hard. I was tired, and worn down, and that definitely didn’t help my depression.
It was a rainy night. I remember that. We were all soaked from the rain, miserable, and hungry. I didn’t want to eat at McDonalds, or any other burger joint. I elected to bring my family to Popeyes instead.
So we went to Popeyes, ate our fill of fried chicken, and were cleaning up. And that’s when I heard it. “Breathless”.
“I like this song.” I said to Michelle. I immediately Shazammed it. And then?
Michelle stood up to return our tray to the garbage can, and I was returning from getting a drink refill. I put my drink down, and when she had returned the tray, I grabbed on to her.
And we danced.
I held her close. We moved to the music, and I listened to the words. “There’s something in your kiss/that leaves me helpless /you leave me breathless….” In the middle of a Popeyes restaurant, for a moment, I felt safe.
One of the things they don’t tell you about depression is, how in the midst of it, you need to find an anchor. Someone to moor you to reality and keep you afloat, even though the storm is raging around you. Michelle was my anchor then, and she’s my anchor now.
So when I added the album Earthly Days to my Apple Music, I really only added it for “Breathless”. But I grew to love the entire album.
It took me years to appreciate country music, or at least some country music, which I guess is called Americana now. And what makes that a funny category for William Prince is, he’s Canadian. And not only is he Canadian, he’s a member of the Peguis First Nation, an indigenous tribe located in Manitoba. William Prince as a person is just as interesting, if not more interesting, than his music.
With vocals reminiscent of Johnny Cash, and songs that would fit perfectly on a playlist alongside Kris Kristofferson and Townes Van Zandt, Earthly Days is the kind of album I would happily hand off to any music fan skeptical of the country genre. It’s definitely worth giving a shot.
I want to take a moment to say that, I love every person in my former church. But like every breakup, there takes a time for some healing, and the wounds of the breakup were still fresh for me at that point, so seeing people there felt very awkward.