Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few weeks, you know that the world has been in complete unrest.
Like many of us, after being stuck inside for several weeks and being persistently reminded of the imperfections and shortcomings of our home that usually, during pre-COVID days, we have good intent (but poor effort) as we made yet another mental note to fix it… someday, (like that closet door that’s off its tracks or to update the living room space to make it look more modern and trendy or painting that accent wall we’ve been talking about for years), have finally decided to undertake the time consuming (yet important) home improvement projects – and it seems, our society got the same memo.
All the issues that have been swept under the governmental rug for so many years have finally been uncovered by residents who are tired of tripping over it time and time again. After seeing how deep rooted the problem really is and how it’s affecting the structure of the whole home – are drawing up plans to strip the house down to its studs and rebuild.
The two songs this week, both Nashville underground, have different perspectives on how to deal with the emotions that are rising from current events. Two raw stories that channel two relevant, and valid, ways of processing what we’re all going through.
1. The soothing one
“Someday When This is Over” by Hailey Verhaalen
After being born and raised in Oregon City, the independent country artist made her way to Nashville. Working hard, she has been known play at the infamous Bluebird Café and most recently she competed and made it to the Top 60 of Season 3 of American Idol. With an authentic country voice similar to the grit of Ashley McBryde and Gretchen Wilson, Hailey rounds it out with powerful songwriting.
The song is much different than what you’ll find previously from Hailey, most were party anthems and filled with GNO vibes. But this track… this track is vulnerable, with strong emotion poured throughout.
I must note that this track was written before the murder of George Floyd and the recent Black Lives Matter protests and probably was meant for the uncertainty that COVID-19 presented.
However, it feels completely relevant to the situation.
This beautiful country ballad is soft, sweet, and sad. Hailey sets the scene as if she’s singing to a little child as they get ready to sleep. Wanting to stay and look strong in front of this depiction innocence, she gives gentle promises for a better tomorrow while shielding them from the pain of today. A dreamy steel guitar echoes and an acoustic guitar strums lightly.
“Close your eyes little darlin’ You don’t need to see the world right now Stay lost in imagination Keep living safe in your dream cloud And I will not fret in front of you Yea I’ll wait ‘til you’re asleep I will not let fear touch you I can pretend we’re not in this deep”
As the chorus rounds, the steel guitar wails softly and she builds confidence thinking on a time where things won’t weigh so heavy.
“Ohhhhh someday when this is over
Ohh I won’t have to keep my composure
One day we’ll look back, this will all be the past
Everyday we’re getting closer
To someday when this is over”
Hailey wrote this with great intention, “The scary times we’re living in have been weighing on us all, and I had finally gotten to my breaking point! In moments like that, I turn to music and lyrics to heal. I wanted to remind everyone, including myself, that we WILL get through this together, and that we have to stay strong for those around us, especially the younger generations.”
When the news become harder to stomach and the next day feels more difficult to get through than the last, a part of ourselves tries to soothe the side that fears for the future. As she sings of holding herself together, it begs the question – maybe she’s the one needing to be held; little child needing of protection and maybe the promises are meant for her.
“Oh to be so little darlin’ It makes me wish that I was too
But I can’t do no time traveling
So I’ll just see what it’s like through you, yeah”
Written by Hailey Verhaalen, drums by Lester Estelle, Steel guitar by Smith Curry, guitars, bass, keys, produced and mixed by Colt Capperrune.
Keep Hailey on your radar, I have a feeling this strong singer/songwriter will be a household name one day.
2. The uncomfortable one
“You Wouldn’t Know” by John Tucker
John came to Nashville from Columbus, Ohio to pursue a career as a songwriter and eventually becoming an artist himself. He cites influences such as Tracey Chapman, Joni Mitchell, Solange, and Anderson Paak. I especially can hear Joni Mitchell in this song – his background vocals, the keys, and percussion.
I’ll say it – as a white woman it’s hard to understand everything that is going on. It’s hard to see the videos of police brutality and listen to the accounts of injustice that happens to our black community. I have the privilege to have never been discriminated against based on my skin color. I don’t know what it’s like to be black.
John Tucker wrote and produced this track after attending his first protest in Nashville in reaction to the deaths of George Floyd and so many other black lives.
After being inspired to see his community coming together and needed a place to put down his thoughts and feelings, John created the powerful and honest R&B/Pop track. John provides his perspective as being a young black man in America.
“Being black in America seems like such a mystery, because it is to many. I’m glad the scope is on us finally, because people need to see how we’ve been affected by America. Privilege creates ignorance, so yes, they wouldn’t know our pain, but empathy is a choice that many have rejected up until now, and silence is violence. I believe we are in an awakening and I’m excited to be alive, and I couldn’t be more black “ says John.
The song starts with slow keys accompanied by sounds of a protest; chants and call and responses: “Say his name!” “George Floyd!” They soon fade away and we are left to hear John’s thoughts echoing the way George Floyd was murdered – not being able to breathe. I love how also this is depicted in the way he sings, almost breathlessly.
“Under my breath
Tell me how i’m supposed to keep this
Under my breath
When there’s a foot on my neck,”
As for any white American, I wouldn’t know what it’s like being black and vice versa for any black American to know what it is to be white – John relays this by relating white privilege to a luxury and his blackness to a tragedy. I will admit, when I first heard the chorus, it made me uncomfortable. For one because of the language – but then I realized… that’s the whole point. He’s not just tired of the injustice… he’s mourning, he’s angry, he feels helpless.
“Yeah it’s a luxury
Yeah it’s a luxury
Being so fucking free
I wouldn’t know,
I wouldn’t know
Yeah it’s a tragedy
Yeah it’s a tragedy
Looking like fucking me,
You wouldn’t know,
You wouldn’t know,”
John carries into the second verse continuing to speak to us who don’t understand with his honest and poetic lyrics. Ending with a haunting question.
“So yes I’m depressed, stressed
And I do things that might
Make you confused
But are you running from death?”
And that’s not the most eye-opening lyric. I strongly suggest listening and really taking in each lyric John sings, and to set it on repeat. Let it be a song to meditate on, to find empathy and help fuel you as we all impact the future inciting change.
John Tucker’s smooth vocals and invigorating take on what it means to be a R&B and Pop artist in today’s climate is extremely promising. I look forward to seeing what else John has up his sleeve in his upcoming EP set to release in August.
Watch John Tucker’s artistic photo visualizer of the song with his personal photos from the Nashville protest.
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