Yes, kids! It’s story time yet again! Part 2 will tell the stories and inspiration behind the final three songs on my EP, Songs for the Sidewalk. I also want to have a quick aside and explain where the title of the EP comes from. As many of you know, I’m highly experienced at busking (playing music on the street for money). I did it all throughout college as a way to make some extra cash outside of my jobs. I lived in four different places in college, all over the country, and my busking skills helped finance each new expedition. Many of the songs I wrote during this time were debuted on the streets where I performed, sometimes being played only for my ears and the sidewalk. Busking was sometimes fun, but also could be demoralizing and defeating. These were all experiences that helped me toughen up and shed my fears. It seemed fitting to make my first official release an ode to these valuable skin-thickening times.
Now to get to these individual songs….
1) “Builders Quit Faster”
This song is about broken homes. My own experience with my parents is complicated, and I felt the need to create a safe space to express that, not realizing at the time that I would ever release this song. After writing the song, I began showing it to some close friends, who connected with it so much that they encouraged me to play it at shows. It slowly evolved into a crowd favorite and was thus included on the EP. This one was a tough song to write, and an even tougher one to be honest about once it was released publicly. But here’s my confession: this song describes my thoughts and feelings as a child, and my struggles as a young adult to reconcile those experiences with who I want to become, “These parents need raising by the children they lost, the ones that misfortune caught” and “Is this where we break, at fail to unmake the damage once done by the old to the young?” I’d like to believe that I’ve now found a mostly healthy balance of acceptance with my turbulent upbringing and moving forward with the happiness I’ve reached as a fully independent adult. The scars of childhood pains are always there, but the wounds heal, and we can choose to let the past be the past. The hardships in my young years are a huge part of who I am today, so I can never look on it as a useless experience. I take from it what makes me strong, and move courageously (though not without fumbling) into the future I want to make for myself.
2) “Game Over”
This song seems to cause a lot of confusion. Many have told me they think the song is about a break up since it would be game over for that relationship. In fact, it is quite the opposite. This song is actually about finding love and finding it in a most unexpected way. Allow me to elaborate. We often thinking of dating as a game, one that is sometimes fun and sometimes exhausting. Either way, we perpetuate the cycle. It’s like a game of hide and seek, over and over again. However, when we find the right person, we cease feeling a need to play these games. The verses explain this, “I’ve tagged base, with both hands flying wild in the chase, but now I’m done…. I’ve given up my right to give up love” and “Count to ten. I always made them track where I had been… but it’s always there, there’s something in the way you stare that traps my need to leave out every detail past what seems.” The chorus dives into how many of us resist love and try to be closed off to it, “I’ve been locked all this time. Frozen by a wordless bind,” and how love can still break through that, “You snuck by what we were, the game is over, over.” The idea is that in spite of ourselves, we can love and be loved in return. We just have to realize when the game is over.
This song explains how we often feel unsure of the person to whom we’ve given our heart. We fall in love, but remain worried that other person might not feel as head over heals as we are. The verses explain the process of falling for someone despite being a skeptic of love, “As an outsider to love for so long I’ve learned to master the art of cynical words. And with each one I bore a broken piece of my hope in love so I commanded retreat.” The next section describes finally taking the leap into a relationship and hoping the other person is just as enamored, “You were my dare. A worthy risk, I’d say. But do you agree. Talk straight to me.” The chorus expresses the longing to know for sure that the other person is on the same page, “If this was all a lie, would you say it’s worth deception? If only this one try, would you stake your other options? If I was your last, would you be content with me?” The bridge is an outright confession about the fear of one’s feelings and efforts being wasted, “I’m paralyzed by fear of your words. Your lost love would cut the deepest.” We all experience joy and fears in relationships so it felt fitting to write a song that tried to capture that mix of excitement and coinciding anxiety.
That concludes my journey through Songs for the Sidewalk. I hope you all found little morsels of significance. These stories aren’t meant to be ground breaking or impart enlightened wisdom onto readers. These are simply my stories and myself poured into music. I thank you for reading them, because I know that I’m certainly not the most concise person. But when it comes to matters of the heart and soul, I’ve always believed that expression was a priority above brevity. Thank you to those who can bear with me long enough to enjoy these anecdotes. I hope to progress my journey through music as I continue to write about what life puts before me. And I look forward to sharing that journey with you all in the days, weeks, and years to come.