Two years after Dierks Bentley released his 2020 single “Gone,” I still can’t stop playing it in my car… because my damn kids keep demanding it. And these two monsters scream the hook in their high-pitched voices like I’m not right there in the front seat, trying not to veer my minivan into a telephone pole.
“I’VE BEEN GONE! I’VE BEEN GONE!
I’VE BEEN SITTING ON THE COUCH WATCHING TV ALL DAY LONG!”
I guess I can’t blame them. They’re kids, and kids only have two volume levels: blood-curdling screams and SHUT UP BEFORE I TURN THIS CAR AROUND AND NOBODY GETS ICE CREAM silence.
And in 2020, I couldn’t stop playing it while we drove back and forth from house to grocery store, masked up and lathered in hand sanitizer.
“Gone” hit home for me on those surreal, deserted drives around town for essential supplies and services during the COVID surge in late 2020 and early 2021. It was comforting to hear Dierks’ voice on something new, and the depressed malaise he described in that song hit a little too close to home for me, from the dirty dishes in the sink to the mail by the door (but no whiskey bottles in bed for me… I’m more of a beer guy).
My kids caught on and learned the words. It was cute at first. But as their confidence grew, so did their volume. Soon, any trip with them meant “Gone” on repeat and lots of screaming (from me this time, that my life would end so I wouldn’t have to hear this song ever again).
Now here we are in mid-2022, facing a hopeful future that is quickly returning to normal. Vaccines are readily available, restrictions have relaxed across the board, and masks are optional in most businesses. Just this week many airlines started lifting their mask mandates after a federal court ruling in Florida.
I never had a problem with wearing a mask for the greater good. But damn, it sure feels good not to. Each step we take back toward normal gives me a sense of relief. And in 2022, Dierks’ song sounds a little different to me, especially when it’s cranked up and screamed. What started as somber and melancholic now sounds defiant and cathartic.
We haven’t been ourselves! We’ve been sitting on our couches, over drinking, over-thinking, and over-sanitizing ALL DAY LONG!
Dierks gives a little glance to the camera as he walks out the door at the end of the music video, telling us he knew this day would come. We’ll walk out into the sunshine, mask-free, and scream joyful songs about those crazy pandemic times way back then.
Either way, the next time my kids ask for “Gone,” I’ll oblige. Those monsters don’t take “no” for an answer anyway.
And this time I’ll scream the hook along with them. And it’ll sure feel good.
And speaking of Dierks and airplane mandates… I’m also ready to get drunk on a plane again.