Singled Out: Well-Known Strangers' Aligned
Looking back over the decades of playing music there's so many memories that are deeply embedded and have helped shape not only the musician I am today, but the person as well. Each and every song that I've penned has a serious meaning to me, some memories more serious than others. Some have hit home very hard! Release Me is about my battle with cancer. Another Sun is about a very difficult relationship. And yet other songs are about life scenarios that friends and family have experienced.
As a songwriter I like to pull from just about any scenario that can help drive a song. While I've written some of these songs years ago, my collaboration with Betsy and her amazing ability to create or improve lyrics, in addition to her incredible power and passion in her vocals, have helped make them what they are today…so very powerful to me.
We knew immediately that this was a deeply emotional song simply listening to Sacia's cello pads. The line, "I am aligned for this has been granted. Circles in time no longer slanted" (recorded ending changed a bit) immediately stuck. We thought perhaps this is a great opportunity for us to write about how we came together as a band, which is a cool story in itself. However, to me, the music had this deep connection with my adoption and the challenges I had after finding my birth mother. I didn't say anything. We captured a rough recording of it sitting around the coffee table and much of what we did musically in the quick hour or so is exactly as it stands today (minus the sweet bass groove that John added later and the additional instrumentation). So we finished practice that day and left it as such with the need to piece together lyrics and keep the momentum growing.
Driving home I immediately started to think of lyrics. As stated, the song (to me) is about my adoption, but more specifically the story around the search for my birth mother. It's not only about the initial connection with her, the failures that followed over something foolish, and the ultimate acceptance that things "are what they are".
Most of us have felt abandonment in our life, some more than others, and many adopted kids have deep-rooted, life-long issues with this. It took me many years to find a place where I was accepting of the fact that my birth Mother and I simply were NOT going to have a relationship. At least not now. The lyrics as originally penned talked a bit about the mental struggles and blaming myself for what happened, as I often questioned my adoption in general growing up. Throughout the song, however, it keeps referring back to being 'aligned' and being ok with all this. Waking up each day listening to the birds outside seemingly going about their world without a care, despite all that's going on in my life. They seem happy. Content. Aligned.
When asked what a song is about I love to share the details of what drove me to write a song, but I often follow that up by referencing a statement that Rob Thomas made in his live solo video performance playing 3AM (see video here). Mind-blowingly good musician and his performance in this video is incredible. I believe the statement he makes aligns with everyone that loves music…whether you're a songwriter or a fan trying to decipher the meaning. He says about 3AM, "It's one of those songs that…you can use it for whatever it is you want to use it for. You can use it for relationships if that makes you feel better." He goes on to explain the true story behind 3AM and his mother's battle with cancer. He follows that up with (roughly quoted) "…and nobody ever picked up on it, which is like I say just as good because then it would lose something universal about a song that makes it kind of special to everybody. You're supposed to be able to take it into your own and use it for whatever you want."
Betsy was in the studio recording the vocals, and I was watching on in amazement (as I always do). During a pause in recording we were strategizing about a specific lyric in the song. I can't remember which specific lyric as we often have those 'ad hoc strategizing sessions'. I was explaining to her what those lyrics meant to me, perhaps helping to piece together an idea or melody, or to confirm something she's thinking. She stated that this song also hits home to her too and that the lyrics for her relates perfectly to a situation in her life. WHAM…HELLO JOE! Remember what Rob said? Her timing was absolutely perfect. Truly an amazing moment for me as I was thinking all about the impact on me and not about what she might be feeling. That exchange will go down as one of those brilliant moments that helped shape me as a musician and a person…that Rob was right, songs can bring out an entirely different scenario for someone on the other end. "Use it for whatever you want", Rob says. What a great moment, great feeling, and another scenario where this song's title proves true.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself, and find out how to get a free download of the song right here!