Even those who knew Mike Posner well surely wondered how he’d ultimately respond after he got the call that his father had a tumor the size of a tangerine in his forehead and Mike moved back into the house he grew up in outside Detroit to help his father die.
And not only would they wonder how Mike would come through his father’s death. But now add this. After years of conspiring with fame to erect walls that prevented women from getting too close to him, how would Mike react once he let those walls down and fell in love . . . only to watch that relationship crumble and dissolve without being able to understand why?
The emotions surrounding Mike’s losses played out as his mom moved out of their longtime home and even the family cat died and moved on.
And exactly how did Mike respond to all this? Well, the truth is that Mike actually looked into enlisting in the Army. Another part of him seriously considered cloistering himself in a monastery and taking the vows of a monk.
Fortunately, for all of us who love his music, this tug of war held firm with the rope taut. Mike did not enlist in the Army, nor did he become a monk.
Instead, Mike found just the right place in the middle and recorded an album.
It’s called: A Real Good Kid
The first single dropped in September. It’s called Song About You.
Nearly all first singles that a record label hopes to become a hit center either on the possibility of falling in love, or the inexplicable joy of falling in love, or the pain that comes when such a love seems to be in the palm of one’s hand and yet is impossible to grasp.
Song About You hits that third bullseye – dead center.
Like the best of Mike’s music, Song About You allows us to hear what only Mike can be feeling, while at the same time striking a recognizable chord inside all of us who’ve had our own unique thermonuclear meltdown of the heart.
A line at the core of the song says it all for millions of us at some point in our lives:
I think I miss something I never had.
We’ve all felt the exasperation in Mike’s voice as he sings this song, maybe even his resounding howl, and we can easily recognize the sadness coming through Mike’s guitar that brings a sense of resignation to his frustration.
The tone and depth in Song About U is not what Mike originally planned to give the world. Rather than pass on the intense darkness of the feelings that began to pour out of him in the music he created in the basement of his family home as his father died, he tried to flee from what came out of that basement and create a trove of upbeat music. But his good friend, In-Q, the spoken-word poet, wouldn’t allow Mike to run away from the truth and pushed him to peel his feelings back like the layers of an onion in order to find out what was at his core.
We’ve seen this throughout Mike’s musical ascent. The short kid who couldn’t get in the basketball game or get the girls in high school developed an I’ll-show-you attitude that led to his writing Cooler Than Me in his college dorm room. That song propelled him to stardom and fortune and led him to seek some measure of revenge and take what he wished from the opposite sex without giving anything in return, which ultimately brought him to great pain and I Took A Pill In Ibiza – the Grammy-nominated song that’s been streamed more than a billion times around the world. If you wonder why life can be confounding to Mike Posner, ask yourself what it would be like to long to be a monk while you’re playing before a packed house at the pantheon with Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars.
The single Stuck In The Middle rises out of that conflict.
Too young to settle down.
Too old to be in bars
It’s hard to take it easy
It’s easy to be hard
People love the old me
I don’t know where he’s gone
Too tired to be famous
Too vain to be unknown.
Here I am again, stuck in the middle
At times this album felt to Mike like a big cry inside him that needed to come out but couldn’t. Stuck In The Middle is the one song that made Mike stop and weep as he tried to record it.
In Mike’s favorite song on the album – How It’s Supposed To Be – we hear him working to find acceptance.
The day my daddy died.
I was down the street.
I lost my only friend.
People don’t grow on trees.
But maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be . . .
The instruments behind these words give off a touch of Paul Simon and the song ends with a recording of Mike’s dad talking with friends on a Sunday morning when Mike was an infant. From the time he was a boy, Mike’s always loved the sound of recordings. And the ending to How It’s Supposed To Be is one of several recordings of his father scattered throughout the album, recordings that make us wish to hear the best in our own parents in those mundane moments that point toward the heavens only after they’ve gone.
Listen to Mike talk about his father.
“My dad was a criminal defense attorney. When you first hear that, you’re thinking: So, he basically helps criminals.
“What do you do with that?
“What you don’t understand is that when you’re accused of a crime – everybody disappears. Often your own family will disown you. And the worse the crime, the more you’re alone. The attorney’s job is to be the last person on that person’s team.
“There was one Mother’s Day. I woke up at 8:30 in the morning and I’m coming out of my room. My dad was just getting home, and he was dressed nice.
“I asked him: ‘Where were you?’
“He had left early that morning to go to prison to see one of his clients. Before he went to the prison, he stopped at CVS, and he got a Happy Mother’s Day card for his client’s mother. His client signed the card and my dad drove from the prison to the client’s mother’s house to give her the card. Then he drove home so that he could be there before Mother’s Day started at our house. That was my dad.”
We get all that Mike went through with the loss of his dad and loss of the woman in Move On.
Beginnings always hide themselves in ends.
At some point I will be okay.
I got high when I met you.
I got high to forget you.
I feel pain. I don’t want to, but I have to,
Yeah, I have to
If I want to move on . . . move on . . . move on
The twelve second clip of Mike and his dad at the end of the album entitled One More Song brings us all a fleeting sense of peace.
And now Mike faces us with the last man on the team no longer standing behind him. Mike comes to us in this album as neither soldier nor monk, but as he is, a musician and storyteller, finding in his melodies and lyrics that beginnings always do hide themselves in ends.