For our fourth song in this series, I have chosen Problem Solver by Slim Dan. This is a very new song, having only been released earlier this month. I first heard it as a live TikTok video and I loved it so much that I went to his profile, found his email address and contacted him to learn about when the full thing was going to be released. We have corresponded a couple of times about the song, and he seems like a genuinely incredible artist who cares deeply about his music and the community that he has created on this platform.
As for the reason I love the song so much, it is simple. The song represents the clearest look at the growth The Detoxing Man can experience. It is as if Slim Dan wrote down the exact process a man goes through to become a better partner and better person, in real time.
And as you listen to the lyrics, I’d like you to think about just how many times you have listened to someone vent about their problems and looked for a solution rather than just listening and connecting with them. Here is how the song begins, as seen through a fan-made lyric video:
From moment one, Slim Dan identifies himself as someone who likes to solve puzzles. He is interested in trying to find solutions, which resonates deeply with me. Whenever my partner of more than 20 years came home from a long day of producing commercials or before that nursing or before that budget and operations management, I would listen as she worked through interpersonal drama and conflict. I would then try to give advice that was not asked for, making her life into a minor narrative in the wider Ben extended universe.
And just like Slim Dan, I have come to realize that this isn’t why my partner shares her life with me. It isn’t so that I can help her to fix anything or win any argument. It is quite literally so that she can share her world, letting me into her experience so I can better understand and support her. It is her perspective that I am gaining, not a new game with new characters to play with.
I don’t often use the memetic phrase, “the masculine urge,” because it feels so reductive and there are plenty of people who aren’t men or who don’t see themselves as masculine who do this, but because of the way I was socialized to be a problem solver for every part of my life, I’ll say, “MY masculine urge.”
My masculine urge is to fix things, even things that don’t need to be fixed. As Slim Dan notices within the song in saying, “sometimes the answers don’t really matter.” The people in your life, especially your loved ones, are not toys to be fixed. They are not missing pieces that you can find and replace. They are not cars that you can give a tune up and they will run just fine. They are, in fact, whole people with autonomy and agency all their own. So, I just have to keep reminding myself, the answers that I have come up with are not really answers at all. They are myopic ideas with limited insight, and they don’t matter when you hold them up to the full weight and beauty of the person trying to connect and make meaning with me.
Slim Dan further perfects his thoughts toward the end of the song, in saying these words:
Leaving space in the silence is what caring looks like. It leaves room for our loved ones to find their own solutions or to simply sit with their thoughts and feelings. The space does not need to be filled with words. It can be filled with a warm embrace, with assurance that no matter what, we will be there.
We do not need to be problem solvers for our partners and our friends. We can be people that they can rely on, teammates who encourage and support. We can wrap them up in our arms whenever they need us and just listen to what they have to say. We too can “read the room.” The room, the people we know and love, are asking for us to be kind. They are asking for us to listen. They are asking us not to solve problems, but to be shoulders to cry on. And sometimes, to cry along with them. And who are we to say that we know better.
Thank you to Slimdan for his incredible reflection through song. I highly recommend you follow him on TikTok for more great music and stream Problem Solver on your platform of choice.