Singled Out: Chelsea Carlson's Belong
"Belong" has always been the song that defied the odds for me - and I really think that's very fitting, considering the song is about finding your place in the world and persevering through it all.
"Belong" was born on the streets of Boston, literally. I had just left class and was walking back to my apartment, my mind undoubtedly still in class-mode, when out of nowhere the idea for this song popped into my head. Honestly, I was pretty taken aback because it was such a happy, hopeful idea - pretty much the opposite of what I usually write songs about. But in the space of those three blocks between school and my apartment, I had figured out the entire chorus in my head. When I got inside, everything was looking so promising - I grabbed my guitar, figured out the chords and melody, and…promptly didn't finish it.
You see, originally, "Belong" was supposed to be a love song. Up until that point, I hadn't written any love songs, and I guess I was subconsciously trying to fill that void with "Belong." Except "Belong" was definitely NOT supposed to be a love song, and forcing it to be that way just sounded inherently wrong, so I dropped it and forgot about it.
Flash forward two whole months later - I was packing up my things to go home, and found the scribbled lyrics to that old chorus I never wrote a song around. After a shrug, I decided to give it another go. I swapped out the lovey-dovey lyrics for some self-empowering ones, and lo and behold, "Belong" burst into existence!
I think a lot of people my age - really a lot of people any age - are faced with figuring out, and possibly defending, where they think they belong in the world. At the time I wrote "Belong," I was going to music school, and while I knew I wanted to be a musician, I wasn't exactly sure where I fit into the whole musician scene. I was studying bass guitar, I had just parted ways with a pretty serious band, and I had started my "solo" career only a few months earlier. After all these years of being in the background of a band, I was finally working towards being a front-person, finally writing and recording my own songs. To top it all off, two days later I would be heading home to New Jersey - not just for winter break, but permanently. I wasn't going to be returning to Boston for the spring semester; I was going to stay in my home state and work on building my career there. All of this was a big step for me, and one that felt really right. I think this newfound direction was really inspiring to me, and was the driving force behind writing "Belong."
"Belong" sort of flew under the radar for a very long time. It wasn't until I actually recorded it for my debut album, "The Broken Road," that I realized just how much this song means to me and how much it really represents me as a musician. "Belong" is a huge contrast to the rest of album. It's soft, quirky, and acoustic. Everything else is heavier, definitely more rock-influenced. If you would have told me two years ago that I would be releasing "Belong" as a single, I probably wouldn't have believed you. But at the end of the day, "Belong" is the song that really tells the story. It really sums everything up. It is the story of a girl who was faced with adversity, overcame it, and believed enough in herself to become the person she is today, and follow her dreams.
The message of "Belong" is that everyone has dreams, a purpose, and a place. For me, this song represents the journey I took to follow my dreams of being a musician. For you, it might represent a new job, a place you want to live, a person you want to be with - any number of things. Regardless of what you want in life, you just need to get out there and go for it! Sometimes it might seem unattainable, or hard to explain. Sometimes you won't receive the support that you want. Sometimes you may even find that you're questioning yourself! But you just have to persevere through it all, hold onto your hope, work hard, and have faith that everything will fall into place. Because if you do all of this, you'll most definitely end up exactly where you "Belong."