Well I was debating even throwing this song up on my blog because it’s pretty tragic and depressing. Songwriting is kind of scary for me because I’m not the most open person in the world, and I believe to write good lyrics you have to be super honest and vulnerable. It’s uncomfortable sometimes.
My main philosophy would be this: music is a energy source by which raw emotion experienced by one individual can be transferred to another individual by a more effective means than simply speaking. But the problem is, to write a good song that communicates an emotion effectively you have to channel that energy in an unfettered way. That raw emotion has to be filtered through lyrics, chord progressions, layers, performance, and if you want to get really detailed I guess you could say the emotion is filtered through the very pickups on your guitar and the very saturation of the tubes in your amplifier. It’s fun to pick those filters, but if you do it wrong you end up losing energy throughout each nuance of the song writing process and the final product will have about as much energy as a toddler after a sugar rush.
Although I believe I am a lifetime away from mastering that process, I am proud of this song because of the response it has received at shows. I have had quite a few people approach me after shows and tell me this song brought them to tears, and on two occasions I watched a few people cry from the stage while I was singing the song. Don’t get me wrong, I get no sick pleasure out of watching people cry, but it has been a good indicator to me that the energy and emotion of this song is communicated with at least some level of effectiveness.
“Born to live alone” is a song I wrote about a cliche yet moving topic: how a relationship ends. Most of my friends that know me well are acquainted with my increasing apathy toward romantic relationships that stems from a painful experience I had in my first and only serious relationship. I don’t want to go into a lot of detail on an online blog, but what I can say is I was totally stupid for ever entering the relationship in the first place. Whoever penned the quote “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” is full of it. When I cast my mind back on the turn of events I am filled with guilt, anger, and regret. I hold onto all those memories like a bottle of compressed air which is why this song is really potent for me. I think its a pretty polarizing song. I figure the listener hears it and either thinks, “this is the most emo piece of junk I’ve ever heard.” or, “This song is honest and I love it.”
I first came up with the idea behind the song when I was driving down a very busy high-speed intersection by the school where I met the girl about whom this song is written. I can still picture the lane I was driving in and everything. I went back and took a slow exposure shot of the street shortly after:
Given the close proximity of this intersection to a school- there is always a lot of foot traffic and I have heard lots of stories of people being hit by cars there because of how blind it is for the driver.
I drove down this intersection and envisioned going 55 miles an hour and looking ahead to see a little girl in the crosswalk, but realizing too late. I imagined what it would feel like to get out of the wrecked car and running over to a dead body and feeling that sick feeling I felt when it all ended with someone I loved. And then I envisioned the years of remorse for something you just can’t change, but still haunts you in vivid memory. I can still see this image, the exact spot on the intersection, the exact details of the crash, in my minds eye when I play the song. I can picture someone telling the driver- “just get back out there on the road. It’s not your fault. You win some, you lost some.” Just like people tell me all the time about dating here in Provo. The scene feels more and more real now that I brought it to life with a song.
The worst part about tragedy is that once the wreckage is cleaned up, the horror of everything is no longer visible to the naked eye. Only those who were there when it happened can know the specific pain it brought, and while the for the rest of the world it’s an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality, the invisibility of the experience makes it worse for those involved. So, for better or for worse, I decided to resurrect this experience with a song. Here’s some lyrics, and a live living room recording I did with my band Grey Glass:
Born to Live Alone
Before the light was red the child took to the street
Her broken body lay crumpled at my feet
The pool of blood rolled out and it shone in the sun
But there’s nothing in this world that I could have done
Cause Darlin I was, Darlin I was,
Born to live alone,
And I don’t mind,
Take your time while,
You walk yourself home.
Now you and I started young and much to fast
The lights were changing and I knew it couldn’t last
And I told you to wait and look both ways, and then I watched you run
But there’s nothing in this world that I could’ve done,
So someone please
Wipe the blood off my knees and pray
And doctor please,
Won’t you tell me that she’s ok
Cause the time was wrong,
And now were bleeding in the sun
But there’s nothing in this world that I