Why Mumford & Sons Speaks to Millennials

Between being born in the '90s and my marketing curriculum's required, "How Millennial are you?" quiz (because clearly Millennials need to be informed of their habits), I've picked a few things up about our generation.

Pew Research Center reports will say things along the lines of, "Millennials are more ethnically and racially diverse" (heyyo melting pot) and "We embrace multiple modes of self expression" (has anyone heard of Blogger, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Spotify, or Snapchat? Me neither). Our parents think we're special (we do too), marketers can't say enough about us, HR manuals are written specifically about how to manage us, and older generations are terrified of what we’re going to do to the world.

All of which, for the record, sounds about right. One Millennial trait that you won’t find in a research report, however, is that we are obsessed with Mumford and Sons. 

Among my peers, you can’t say the word, “Mumford” without someone in a ten foot radius sighing with happiness or decrying that the music “speaks to them.” Goodness knows I fall solidly in that camp. Let’s just say one doesn't bring a computer on a rustic yoga and hiking trip for the chance to acquire coveted concert tickets if they aren't.

My Mumford ticket situation aside, the band doesn't just speak to Millennials because of the musical lines of their songs, religious undertones, the way they took an often-mocked instrument and made it cool again (I'm looking at you, banjo), or the intrigue effect of men with accents. These attributes, and let's be real, particularly the last one, help the cause, but the propelling mechanism is larger than the sum of these parts.

Mumford & Sons' music gives life to Millennials' fears in a way that is socially acceptableThis, for us, is big.

Take the lyrics of “Awake My Soul” for example:

How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes
I struggle to find any truth in your lies
And now my heart stumbles on things I don’t know
My weakness I feel I must finally show

People within my generation (myself included) find ourselves in the same sorts of situations day in and day out: feeling tired. Strung out. Procrastinate-y. Torn by expectations. Less than sparkly. And most of all, less than our personal versions of ourselves.

Pushing through the afore mentioned emotions works for a while…we go out. We work out. We make ourselves so busy that we don’t have time to think, let alone slow down enough to confront the emotions head on.

We’re never at a shortage for band aids, ways to caffeinate, ways to forget, or ways to distract ourselves. Finding these band aids is one of the things we do best. All of them help us feel like things are okay…that so long as we keep them up, nobody will call us out on being inauthentic.

On actually being any of the things that we’re feeling.

We’re so afraid of these things. Of feeling them, of being them…of even being associated with them. And so we run. We run hard, and fast, and far. We think that we can outrun them and do we ever try.

Lend me your hand and we’ll conquer them all
But lend me your heart and I’ll just let you fall
Lend me your eyes I can change what you see
But your soul you must keep totally free

The thing is, to find ways to dull the sting of having our lives feel less than what we want them to be is to subconsciously acknowledge that these things define most of our days. This unwitting acknowledgement makes it difficult to say that they don’t actually define us.

As much as we hate to admit it, we care far too much about what other people think (despite the impression we try to give off). About expectations people have for us. About the expectations we have for ourselves.

Har har. Har har.
Awake my soul.

The responses you’d get from Millennials about what “awakens their souls” would vary. For me, my soul is awakened by early mornings. By time spent in nature. By daily bouts of exploration and wonder. By plant-based food. By music and physical movement. By deep, personal conversations. By fire and wind and rain.

It’s eye-opening to look at my list and see how little of it is represented in my daily routine.

How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes
I struggle to find any truth in your lies
And now my heart stumbles on things I don’t know
My weakness I feel I must finally show

Underneath it all though, we Millennials really do want to open up. We want people to see us for who we are (rather for who we are not). We don’t want to be held to standards of perfection, nor of ever increasing competition…we just don’t want to be the ones to admit it. We want to show hints of these desires, be called out on them by those that we trust, and then let our walls down. To finally show our “weakness.”

Har har. Har har.

To see for the first time that our “weakness” can really be our strength.

In these bodies, we will live
In these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love,
You invest your life.

And that by acknowledging our weakness(es), we can learn to live fully, to find something beyond ourselves that calls to us, and to make our lives mean something more than a fleeting blip on the radar of humanity.

Awake my soul. Awake my soul. Awake my soul.
For you were made to meet your Maker.
You were made to meet your Maker.

Questioning. Echoing. Acknowledging. Reflecting. Affirming.

These things probably don’t fall in line with the Pew Research Center’s findings on Millennials, but they are defining aspects of my peers’ and my lives. Regardless of if this was Mumford & Sons' plan all along, their authenticity has done something special to Millennials. To me. And to the rest of this world, for that matter. 

For that, gentleman, hats off to you.