A Son and His Father | “Bostons” by Have Heart


Nick Sanchez, Host of Thee Hourz O' Power

Content warning: This article focuses on the death of a parent.

Some days I don’t think about him at all. Other days, he’s the only thing on my mind. Like many things in life, it was entirely preventable. I think he himself even knew it. One has to imagine that it’s pretty easy not to do something, but sometimes repetition turns into a fatal habit. I was 17 years old when my dad died.

“Have the youth you did not get to live / 

Or feel the love this world forgot to give.”

Most people say the same thing when I tell them about my dad. They’re sorry. They didn’t know. They didn’t mean to bring it up.

I find it difficult to explain to people how it feels. They’re not picking at an open wound and they aren’t making me uncomfortable. I suppose it’s a lot like a broken nose that never got set. Funnily enough, that’s also something I have. It doesn’t really hurt anymore, but you can remember when it used to and if you look in the mirror the right way you can still see it. 

“Bostons” is a song about the intergenerational trauma of losing a father. Put simply, this song is about me.

“And a ground that never knew the knees / 

Of a boy and his own tale of two cities.”

I found this song after I thought I had processed what happened to my father, but I had simply become hardened to his death. This song broke down the walls I had built around myself and told me that what I felt was okay. There are no guidelines one needs to follow in such an event. I simply had to let myself feel what I had been resisting. 

Maybe there had been pain there all along. Maybe it wasn’t normal and maybe I didn’t have to pretend that it was. I am allowed to be more than my pain.

“But a seed was planted in the sod of nothingness from which you came /

And flowers grew and roses bloomed /

To form this garden of life you’ve made.”

Between the various tensions and buildups of “Bostons,” Have Heart is able to articulate what I long thought was impossible. The instrumental flurry that opens the song is accompanied by one of the more heartbreaking and blunt paragraphs of lyrics, simply stating that alcoholism stole this man’s father. The tension is eased by the first section of open strumming, pulsating double bass and heartbreaking compassion. The lyrics read like a parent explaining death to their child.

“Sometimes a man breaks /

Sometimes he can’t bend.”

Have Heart returns to rigidity for the next minute or so, spouting pained and empathetic lyrics over increasingly quick riffs and beat patterns. After a bridge that starts to draw me towards the edge of my seat, the meaning of the song’s name is revealed in a beautiful release of emotion.

The song wraps its themes up with a hometown that holds pain in its memories. The pluralism of the word “Bostons” means that there are multiple cities in one: It is seen differently by different people. The Boston that this song’s protagonist sees — the city that I see — is not the same one that others see.

“O’ your friends say Boston’s beautiful /

But they didn’t dream here, they didn’t scream here /

When no one hears.”

Death hurts, so open yourself up and let the world hear you. Not everyone is going to like it and not everyone is going to care. That won’t matter because you were true to yourself and from that truth comes strength. It’s okay to feel, to let it hurt. For too long I denied myself that feeling because I thought I wasn’t supposed to feel it. I’m not strong for refusing to let someone see me cry. I’m not strong for refusing to talk about it. I’m strong because I do feel it, because I do talk about it. It’s a mistake to do otherwise, a mistake I made so hopefully you won’t.

“O’ your friends say Boston’s beautiful /

But they didn’t hide here, they didn’t cry here /

When little boys weren’t allowed to shed their tears. /

There just aren’t enough men like you.”