Welcome to the next entry in the exploratory series of Mental Health Themes in Music! Today we’ll look at the indie folk/alternative song, Wobbly by Ezra Furman, released in 2015 on the album Perpetual Motion People. Let’s get started!
“I've been feeling wobbly lately
I've been feeling wobbly, so wobbly”
Wobbly can mean a bunch of different things, but often evokes the idea of unsteadiness and uncertainty, which can be relatable when discussing mental health. While this can often be the case with anxiety, depression and other facets of mental health, in this context, Ezra Furman names gender. In 2021, she came out as trans feminine, so it’s possible that she was in the process of questioning her gender identity when she wrote this song and may have been experiencing gender dysphoria as someone who was assigned male at birth.
“They'll never pin me down in the pages, like a bug or bumblebee
Never classify me, don't try, the soul is always rising, uprising”
Identity is often nuanced, complex and dynamic. We are also always learning, growing and often changing, which is what Furman is naming here. It also names the importance of labels not being mandatory. Sometimes we don’t have the all encompassing words for what we are experiencing, and that’s ok.
“Sometimes I wobble down
Into a deep dark hole
At the bottom of the ocean floor
They all, they all just seem so fixed,
Everything seems so straight
But I don't wanna stay down here, I wanna be free”
Being “different” often leads to masking who we are, and that feels isolating. Despite it feeling terrifying to live authentically, the alternative is bleak and suffocating. And while others can seem like they’re “normal” when we compare ourselves to them, this is a myth because “normal” is completely subjective and therefore doesn’t actually exist in a concrete way. So, might as well be yourself when you can?
“Because now I can find the truth of me
And if you think you love me, take warning
Don't get too attached to just one me”
Here we are touching on the fluidity of identity and the importance of finding our own “truth.” Again, we are always growing and changing, even if it’s in barely perceivable ways. However, being loveable is not mutually exclusive to this and our relationships with others often adapt to these changes.
The moral of the story is that everything is complicated, especially identity, and it’s ok to not have everything folded neatly into little boxes. It’s ok to not know. And, ultimately, uncertainty, while uncomfortable, is surmountable; “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.”
Kim Johnson, LMHC, MT-BC, is a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) and board certified music therapist (MT-BC) who graduated with her master’s from Lesley University in 2017. She has experience with adults and adolescents in group private practice and community mental health settings. The levels of care she has worked in are outpatient, with both individual and group therapy and in partial hospital programs for mental health and substance use disorders. Additionally, she has had intensive training in dialectical behavioral therapy and cognitive processing therapy for PTSD.
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