The Song That Rewrote Itself

musings of a professional dreamer

I have always loved the idea that one song can be interpreted in different ways; that one song can mean something to one person and something different to another. That is one of the mysterious powers of songwriting that I find so completely captivating and one of the reasons why I write the kind of music that I do. But it wasn’t until very recently that I realised to what extent this is true, because it’s not often that one song can have entirely opposing interpretations and then come to mean something entirely different to its writer.

I wrote Alone In The City about four years ago. In theory, it was about searching for a sense of home after losing what I thought defined it. In theory, it was a sad song about love lost and the search for something to hold onto. In theory, it was about finding yourself in a foreign place, struggling to settle into a new reality.

Then, four years later, quite unexpectedly, someone else played it.

It was quite a surreal moment for me, hearing someone else playing a song that I wrote for the first time. A beautiful moment. At first I couldn’t place the song, hearing familiar chords played on guitar when I’m used to hearing them on piano, and words that felt so much a part of me that sounded so foreign on someone else’s voice. But what made the moment even more powerful for me was the meaning the song had for them. “It’s the most beautiful love song.”

And in that moment, a song about losing love became a song about having love to go home to. In that moment, a song about searching for home became a song about knowing where home is and pointing steadfast in its direction. A sad song became a love song.

I guess it depends entirely where you’re at and what noise you’re hearing in the background, because your emotional noise defines how you listen and what you hear. Just like it defines how you live. Hearing someone else play a song that I wrote a lifetime ago, rewrote its place amidst the noise in my head. I don’t hear a sad song anymore. I hear a song about love and hope and coming home.

That’s what I love about songwriting, about life, about love. That it changes. That we change. Turn the good stuff up.

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© Shannon Hope 2017