It’s time, my friends, for Part 2 of my “Storytime” series, in which I tell you the stories and inspiration behind the songs I write. Today, we are exploring two songs from my second EP Late Nights and Weekends: “Long Way to Go” and “Gardeners.” Both of these songs are more retrospective, as I was exploring flaws and baggage within myself.
“Long Way to Go” captures my feelings of inadequacy. I have long thought that most artist-types have a constant tug-of-war when it comes to self-doubt, and I’m certainly no exception to that. However, I discovered that so many different types of people struggle with this as well; it seems to be one of those universal human experiences that we cannot escape. “Long Way to Go” created a great outlet for me to sort through these thoughts and emotions. I start the first verse by admitting severe disappointment: “Here I am, waiting for a miracle for relief, because my road has failed to sweep me off my feet.” Throughout the song, I also expose that I don’t always feel I’ve become the person I set out to be, which can be incredibly disheartening. After I finished writing this song, the ebb and flow of life’s defeats and victories became a little clearer. You win some; you lose some. As cliché as the old adage is, it has helped me to keep certain ups and downs in perspective. Simply because something looks different than you imagined it would, doesn’t mean it’s bad. And similarly, just because something may actually turn out badly, doesn’t mean you don’t have a chance to make something good come out of it.
When it came time to producing the video for “Long Way to Go,” I had a very specific vision, especially since I had come to realize how many people I knew experienced the same feelings that I expressed in the song. I thought it would be a perfect fit to feature different people working hard to achieve their goals and striving to be the person they want to be. The video follows a dancer, a victim of bullying, a nurse, and someone trying to make their community a better place. They all work tirelessly and continue to push forward, keeping their eye off of obstacles and focused on overcoming challenges. This video was a particularly enjoyable project for me, as it presented the opportunity to cast a good friend (in the role of “Good Citizen”) who has been unwaveringly supportive of my music since the moment we met AND my real-life girlfriend (who plays the role of “Nurse” and is also a real life pediatric nurse). Sometimes, I am at loss for how I can express my gratitude to those who walk beside me in my musical journey, but this song and this video offered a wonderful opportunity to make them a bigger part of the process and allowed them a way to show others their participation in these projects, beyond just a behind-the-scenes role. I’m forever grateful to all those who encourage me and my endeavors, and I was so happy to share this project with a couple of my truest and most loyal advocates!
The next track on Late Nights and Weekends is “Gardeners.” The song goes a little more into my past. I wrote this at a time when I was dating someone that had to bear repeated family tragedies and losses. I was able to empathize because of some of my own scars that I brought to the table. We were able to connect and help each other work through the issues with which we struggled, because we could relate on such a dark and intimate level. This shared experience, of mourning and learning to cope, inspired me to write a song that essentially served as a vow. This was a vow to do everything in my power to not repeat the choices of my family, that I would find a better way for myself and my future family. If we are handed a bad set of cards, we have the choice to try to change them. Just because you start ten steps behind, doesn’t mean you have to stay there. This song offered me the therapy I needed to uncover my own darkness, but also to explore new ways of paving my own path, that could lead somewhere better than I ever thought possible.
To anyone out there struggling with self-doubt or feelings of being “stuck,” you are not alone. Life has a way of kicking us when we are down, but it can also bring new and unexpected discoveries that enrich our lives beyond what even we can imagine. Stay open to new paths, stay awake and engaged in your life so you can absorb every ounce of goodness that life can offer, and don’t let anyone make you think you don’t deserve what you earn.