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The Power of Partying: Radical Positivity

It’s no secret that Andrew W.K. is one of my favorite musical acts. A long time ago, my mother asked me what kind of music he plays. I thought for a moment and said, “It’s fast, loud, positive… happy rock and roll about deriving enjoyment from everything in life.”

Andrew W.K. spreads a message of radical positivity in something that he describes simply as partying: anything counts as partying, regardless of if that something actually fun or something difficult yet formative in your life. Here are some choice lyrics:

Seriously. The two bolded phrases are song titles, except the last two stanzas, which are The End of Our Lives and You Will Remember Tonight, respectively. He has other, more simple songs about partying (in the Animal House sense) and about finding and being in love. They’re great but it’s the motivational ones I find myself belting out louder when I’m at a show.

HuffPosts’s Lauren Himiak wrote Apparently Andrew WK Is A Healer after attending a show in October 2017:

This has been my experience at every show I’ve ever attended, which is every live show he’s ever done in Pittsburgh, full band or by himself.

Here’s a quick video of “She is Beautiful” I recorded at his October 9, 2017 at Mr. Smalls Theater:

It’s all coming back / I can feel it

A few years ago, he wrote an advice column for the Village Voice. The staff of the magazine wrote a list called 10 Times Andrew W.K. Gave the Best Advice. I highly recommend reading it, the full columns referenced in it, and, well, all of his articles.

One response in particular, to Can I be Straight-Edge and still party hard?, defines what partying is:

This describes one of my key principles, that of non-aggression. This message resonated strongly with me. One response in particular offered insight on the deep political division in the U.S, when a submitter in 2014 asked advice on how to handle his right-wing conservative father:

In 2016, amidst the controversial U.S. election, he channeled his own frustration with American politics and used his platform and popularity to talk about his concept of partying as a way of unifying people into a speaking tour entitled The Power of Partying.

I attended his talk in Cleveland and took some notes. I’ve sat on them for almost a year and after some difficult events in my own life, I want to share them as a way of committing them to the record of humanity–the Internet–in text form.

Andrew talked a little about the things he’s overcome. The enemies he’s made before — and during — his rise to success as a musician and businessman.

The particular quote struck me hard. I don’t have any personal enemies that I know of; I am unaware of anyone who dislikes me individually because of something I did to them. So, this quote applies more appropriately to me when I replace enemies with problems to convey that I have been fortunate and privileged in my life to have largely created my own problems. I’ve taken tasks and twisted them into something that was sophisticated beyond need to challenge myself. The things that went poorly served to teach me what not to do next time I tried something similar. These bad experiences were the ignition of the good experiences in my life. They equipped me to move forward and taught me to share where I’ve come from, where to tread lightly, and where not to tread at all.

When I’m having rough time, I almost always look to the spirit of Andrew W.K. for wisdom and words to get me through it. When I can, I’ll turn up the Andrew W.K., loud, fast, and happy as ever.

Written by

Scholar, bon vivant, champion of the oppressed. Pittsburgh-based software engineer+architect+consultant and community builder seeking serenity.

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