Smash It Out: Defy design 

The track from Cosplay that I plan to explain in this entry is not a song that anyone in the band finds to be their favorite, or even in their top few favorites from the record. We don’t think the song is bad, of course; I think we just feel there are some real barn burners on Cosplay that make Smash It Out feel like the coup de grâce of a front-loaded production.  But, whatever the reasons, we do have friends and fans tell us this song is their personal favorite – specifically, that it’s relatable to them before even knowing that the song is written about Bruce Banner.  My brother recently shared that he had this affinity for Smash It Out, too. Mind you, he doesn’t care much for comic books or much of anything fantasy-fiction.  When I explained last summer of the hero-inspired theme and content of the record, he didn’t care in the slightest. It’s probably, in part, that we differ so much that his favorite song choice intrigued me. It got me thinking at length about my own family and friends, coupled with the nature vs. nurture commentary that we interwove into this song about Bruce Banner (The Hulk). 

For those who may not know much about The Hulk, other than the fact that his iconic transformations can lead him to smashing the hell out of everything, here is what you need to know: Bruce lost his mother, Rebecca Banner, through domestic abuse as a child. Bruce’s father, Brian Banner, was an aggressive alcoholic, and during an attempt by Rebecca and Bruce to flee from Brian, Bruce’s father smashed his mother’s cranium into the driveway during a fit of alcoholic rage. It’s one of those comic book backstories that really addresses an important and powerful social issue.  Substance abuse and dependency is alarmingly pervasive. It certainly has been for my family. Of course, this much is well understood as a culture, enough that just about everyone we know has an incredibly small degree of separation from someone with a dependency disorder.  The destructive behaviors that accompany and ravage the sufferer are saddening, and those who come to witness the disorder’s unraveling will likely never forget. 

From talking with my brother, it became pretty clear that Smash It Out incited the shared sympathy we both have for our parents and extended friends/family who have tussled with alcohol dependence.  My brother and I have a handful of deceased friends who attempted to self-medicate depression, uncles still dealing with their disorders, one of whom has been in and out of prison for alcohol-related offenses.  My grandfather on my father’s side, who I will never meet, committed suicide in the back of the family Oldsmobile when my father was a child. He had dealt with prolonged alcoholism and depression, which had ultimately led him to devalue and terrorize his own family in his final years before ending his own life.  My grandmother on my mother’s side was also verbally and physically abusive under the influence of alcohol, which led to my mother running away from home during middle-school.  She entered foster care and would never complete secondary school due to a torrent of responsibilities placed on her; foremost, she needed to work in order to support herself financially. 

The point here, of course, is simply to characterize the pervasiveness of dependency. Fortunately, my story ends on a cheerier note for my own nuclear family – fast forward a bit – my mother would ultimately meet my father while waitressing as she had been doing for a number of years, and the both have raised my brother and me in an environment wholly unaffected by alcohol abuse. I think I saw my parents drunk a total of three times in my 29 years.  At any rate, I hope people enjoy Smash It Out, and if the content does hit close to home, I hope the narrative we crafted here can provide some strength to a very serious issue.

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He spoke it softly:  “You just say the phrase, as if you’ve had enough, and all the nerve to say so.” 
She begged him often, but dad weighed in strength.  I am a mother’s son, but apples fall around you. 

Psychotic to some for the havoc he brought when he had lost control. 
His anger is bound to the fear of a man who needed whiskey to cope. 
  
But he’ll smash it. 
Can’t even giants defy their design? 
Can’t even giants deny? 
Deny your design. 
His faith is a brick away; cast it or be laid. 
His dad banked on fist and fate, a slave to DNA. 
If you can smash yourself, you’re bound to smash it out. 
  
Dad took her life with violence when he was just a boy. It’s not his fault, but it’s his penchant. 
He whispered softly: “It’s okay to stray.  I am a father’s son, but I’m not just a shadow. 
  
Psychotic to some for the havoc he brought when he had lost control. 
His anger is bound to the fear of a man who needed whiskey to cope. 
  
But he’ll smash it. 
Can’t even giants defy their design? 
His faith is a brick away; cast it or be laid. 
His dad banked on fist and fate, a slave to DNA. 
If you can smash yourself, you’re bound to smash it out.

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