Singled Out: Sara Melson's What Are You Waiting For
I went over to my friend Rich Jacques's place one afternoon. We were getting together to co-write a song that we were planning to submit for a film. I had brought my journal with my lyrics, and was leafing through it to find something appropriate that could possibly work thematically for the movie. I was paging through my many lyrics and scribblings and happened upon a poem I had written a few nights before. Literally this poem had woken me up out of sleep. I always keep pen and paper next to me beside the bed, in case that happens. Anyway, this one night I guess I was fantasizing about getting out of the city and into the woods, the mountains, the trees. These verses had popped into my head about getting into nature, about the urge to bust out of town and go on a road trip, a wilderness adventure. A lot of the images are based on nostalgia for places I've been. I've spent a lot of time over the years back-country hiking and camping, especially in Northern California and Big Sur. When I feel stuck in my city rut, I find I miss it and think about it a lot: the quiet and majesty of standing under the giant trees, feeling the soft earth underfoot, swimming in a mirror-clear lake... So anyway, I read the words out loud to Rich. The way they sounded had this sort of built-in rhythm to them, and he picked up his guitar and started strumming that opening riff. I started singing the words into a melody, and he just followed me on the guitar. We both got pretty excited about it and decided to record that, instead of the assignment for the movie! We spent the rest of the afternoon on it, and it just flowed effortlessly. The whole song took us about four hours total, to write and record. Then we gave it to Rick Parker (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Raveonettes) to mix.
Lyrically, the song is sort of an interesting blend for me between personal and universal. I feel like the verses are really my own fantasy, and the choruses are basically a call to the rest of humanity to wake up and do the same thing... Get back into nature and to our true selves. I feel like our city life, priorities, and pursuits can blind us to who we really are and where our souls really belong. We forget that we are truly children of the natural world, and part of it, and that's what the chorus is about. It's a reminder, and also a call to action. When I went to record my vocal, Rich initially stopped me. I was fighting a cold that day and could barely sing. I felt like I was croaking, my voice was so hoarse. Rich told me to just let it out, and shout if I felt like it. He was like, "Go for it, make it raw, messy, imperfect." So I started over, and sang it through that way. I just went for it. So what you hear is one take, that first take. It's definitely different from how I would sing a ballad. It's kind of a different color of my voice, of my personality, my essence. So it was a really fun song to record for that reason. Plus, I love Rich's production; it's so driving, which is perfect for a road trip song. It was the first time we'd ever written anything together. I think that day we both realized we make a pretty good writing team!
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the album right here!