This American Life: Episode 541: Regrets, I've Had a Few
December 8, 2014 5:38 AM - Subscribe

Every day we make mistakes, and most of the time we just ignore these failings and move forward. But every so often, there is one that makes us pause and take notice. This week, people struggling with those regrets — big and small — that take root and have to be dealt with.
posted by jazon (15 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Act 1 wasn't bad, and they did acknowledge it was the interviewers first radio piece (and it knd of showed). I found Act 2 to be very poignant, and the special music really brought out the emotions the father was expressing and feeling.
posted by jazon at 5:42 AM on December 8, 2014

Regarding Act II: I think Stephin Merritt's songs would probably be fine apart from the story, maybe provided separately as bonus content, but as it's presented I thought they were disruptive and trivialized an otherwise interesting piece.
posted by doctornecessiter at 10:59 AM on December 8, 2014

I found the songs added a layer of emotion that Will Ream didn't, or couldn't, convey.
posted by jazon at 4:33 PM on December 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

I thought this was the best show they've done in a long time. The intro about the sisters actually freaked me out a little with family flashbacks.
posted by bq at 9:38 PM on December 8, 2014

I had a really bad reaction to the songs at first, because it sounded almost like Merritt was making light of Will's words when he was discussing his thoughts of suicide.

It was also another one of those episodes where I wished the intro had stretched into Act 1 because I really would have loved to hear more about the sisters.

I loved hearing Ira get worked up about how much he hates My Way.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:37 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had a really bad reaction to the songs at first, because it sounded almost like Merritt was making light of Will's words when he was discussing his thoughts of suicide.

It's Merritt's voice. I'm sure he's not doing it on purpose, but his tone sounds like an almost cartoonish affectation, so I hear it as insincere and ironic...Which for me completely spoils the attempt at illustrating the emotion.
posted by doctornecessiter at 10:47 AM on December 9, 2014

The Act I piece, "Leaving a Mark," won the bronze award in this year's Third Coast International Audio Festival awards, which are the closest thing radio has to the Oscars or the Grammys.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:21 PM on December 9, 2014

I thought it was interesting that the first and last stories were both about (very different) Mormon families.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:23 PM on December 9, 2014

I was so excited to finally get a chance to listen to this and then come here to talk about it since no one I know IRL is really into TAL. But then I was really “meh” about this episode.

I liked the bit about the sisters, a little funny but also poignant in that way that I think the show does well.

I really disliked the songs in the last act. My brain kept thinking it was about to switch to be that annoying Crash Test Dummies song – Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm.
posted by Sabby at 4:42 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was taken aback by the songs at first, because the singer's voice really sounded a bit like he was making light of the guy's story, but as I eased into it, I appreciated them more. I'd love to see a full musical based on this story.
posted by xingcat at 7:14 PM on December 9, 2014

I liked the songs, but I found the episode overall kind of boring. It's weird, because I don't think the peoples' actual stories were boring. But something about the presentation or the combination or something didn't really do it for me.
posted by primethyme at 9:56 PM on December 9, 2014

I was zoning out through the entire thing. Ira was complaining about hating My Way? I don't even remember it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:26 AM on December 10, 2014

From the transcript:
Ira Glass -- that line always stands out in this bombastic, ridiculous song as the one sincere thought in the song, though "My Way" is such a crap song that the line right after "regrets, I have a few" basically obliterates any sincere feeling of regret. It like, kills the one sincere moment in the song.

Frank Sinatra [SINGING] --had a few. But then again, too few to mention.

Ira Glass -- Oh really? Too few to mention? Not me, buddy-- not most people. If you don't have regrets, it means you haven't screwed up. It means you haven't had your heart broken. It means you haven't been bloodied. It means you haven't failed. You haven't failed. Like, why even live? Like, why even live a life?
He basically just told Frank Sinatra to go DiaF.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:54 AM on December 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

I liked the songs - found them very poignant. I know they were his actual words, but they were clearly rearranged - unless he normally speaks in rhyme.

I don't know that I would have been able to do it. I don't know that I would have given up my parental rights to my kids after I had gone to such lengths to get us out. I wonder if he ever looked up his ex-wife after he left, even if it was only to say, I made it out and you were right, I treated you poorly, and I knew it at the time and felt (and feel) awful.
posted by chainsofreedom at 5:36 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh my God Act II was devastating.

(And the songs, I liked them; it was interesting to me that Merritt was able to find lyricism in the interviews.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:56 PM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

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