Newest Single From Coxey's Army Advocates For Us To Choose Ourselves
When I attended the first Coxey's Army show at Ruby Tuesday's Live this past April, I didn't know that it would be such a pivotal and prophetic moment in my first year as a music journalist. I also didn't know that the song that resonated with me most that night would play a vital role in my comeback after battling cancer.
This is the story of that song and what it means to me. However, with that being said, you should give it a listen before I elaborate any further.
The debut performance of Coxey's Army was exceptional for a multitude of reasons, the least significant of which (at least through my retrospective lens) was their outstanding professionalism. Coxey's Army kicked off their ascension within the Columbus music scene with a setlist chocked full of expertly rehearsed and perfectly polished studio-ready originals that boldly resonated within the dynamically warm acoustics of Ruby Tuesday's Live.
As Coxey's Army took the stage, I was struck by a sense of deja vu, which was immediately followed by a wave of terrifying dread because I recognized a member of the band from a previous life. Although I had only had a handful of conversations with the lead guitarist in my youth, I knew that he graduated the same year as my abuser and that they grew up together, at least in some capacity, within classrooms and schoolyards. I also knew that after years of isolating me from my friends and family, my abuser's last act of cruelty was to try to isolate me even further. After I finally managed to kick him out, he quickly returned to our hometown, where he could completely control the breakup narrative without me being there to defend myself. I was portrayed as a monster. He turned our mutual childhood friends against me and ensured that I could never truly return to the place I was born without a deep-seated apprehension echoing in my bones.
However, that foreboding feeling that flooded my sympathetic nervous system the moment the band took the stage was soon washed away about halfway through the Coxey's Army set by something Nate Rising said as he introduced their next song. Hindsight being 20/20, I wish I had written what he said down, so I could quote it word-for-word. Sadly, the best I can do is paraphrase what he said in that magically cathartic moment. But after taking a long drink of water, Rising looked at his bandmates and then panned over the growing crowd with a wry, knowing smile before saying something along the lines of, "This song is for anyone who has survived an abusive situation."
At this point, it should be evident that the song being introduced was "Send 'Em Packin." But at that moment, my ears perked, and my heart did more than skip a beat. It was suspended in time, anticipating a corrective experience I never imagined could be possible in my wildest dreams. What he said was far more than an introduction to a song: it was undeniable evidence that I had found a new home. I was safe at last.
In that moment, I realized that I could still have a childhood friend, even if it weren't in the traditional sense. AJ Hutchinson and I might not have been friends as children, but we shared the same memories from different perspectives. I also knew that if AJ was playing in this band (if you know the guys in Coxey's Army, you know they have an unprecedented level of camaraderie), then he must believe their message. The upperclassman I looked up to from afar for refusing to give in to the corrosive intergenerational cycles of conformity in our shitty hometown was standing before me, living his dream. And somehow, I knew that if I ever needed to tell him what transpired between my abuser and me, he would believe me.
I spent years trying to outrun the trauma of my past. Nearly a decade later, there are still nights when my husband wakes up to me screaming in my sleep. However, each passing year is marked by fewer and fewer of those nights, and at the risk of sounding cliche, I think "Send 'Em Packin" may even contribute to their eventual disappearance. Not because the song is about escaping your abuser—it can absolutely be about that—but because it's about the choice to stop choosing the people who don't choose us.
We have the power to choose who we give our time and energy—so instead of choosing people who don't support us or believe us, we can choose ourselves. "Send 'Em Packin" is an anthem for those of us doing the work that comes after escaping our tormentors. It is about discovering the strength to put ourselves first and establish healthy boundaries based on a foundation of self-love. Best of all, the catchy little ditty tells us precisely what we need to do when someone has the audacity to violate, cross, or circumvent those boundaries deliberately.
In closing, it is surreal talking about a band's new single after I heard it for the first time on April 15th and heard it evolve overtime as I anticipated hearing it at every show. It is even more surreal to have Nate Rising of Coxey's Army ask me if I wanted to debut their single on my website. This is especially true, considering that I was trying to figure out how to relaunch the site after choosing to take a hiatus to prioritize my health. But perhaps the most surreal matter is that all this is happening on my blog's first anniversary.
Some things are just kismet and the scene always provides.