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What’s behind a song

I believe that people want to connect with each other, but we’re in a world where sometimes we need a helping hand.

I also believe the truth of a story isn’t the sequence of events, it’s about the people, their history and their emotions that shape the story and give it meaning.

We like to hope that people are ultimately good.  In particular, people like to think of themselves as good – I’m sure you can relate.

You may have heard of the trolley problem: whether you’d pull a lever to divert a runaway trolley so it hits one person instead of many. And in some versions, the scenario goes on to make you consider whether you’d jump in front of that trolley yourself if that would save all those people. I think most people would say “yes” – they would jump in front of the trolley. Anything else would make you a horrible person, right?

But if you think about it: right now, you could head strategically close to a hospital, and execute a perfectly timed “accident”. If you made sure you had your donor card obvious, it would be a far more direct approach to save a lot of other people. But you’re not going to do that. I bet it never even crossed your mind – that would be crazy. It’s crossed mine, and I certainly haven’t done it! And does that make me a horrible, selfish person? No.

What it does show is that humans aren’t these perfect, selfless creatures. And I think once you realise that – and I mean really realise that, learn it, and make it a part of how you view others – it helps us to stop judging each other. It helps us to stop putting people on pedestals and it helps you realise that you are just as good as anyone else in this world, and just as powerful – if you let yourself be.

Have you ever looked at your partner (who you love and who loves you) and just wanted to scream “You don’t get me!”?

I believe that people feel a multitude of emotions towards others, and that it’s never straightforward. If you’ve ever written a diary and read back on those pages, you’ll know that it’s an intensely cringeworthy experience. It sounds like everything is the worst or best thing ever. Because that’s how it feels at the time. People might think “Oh, you wrote a song about how betrayed you feel by a friend” (true – I wrote a song like this) “That must mean you have a bad relationship with them” But that’s not the case. I know from personal experience that you can have intense, but short-lived thoughts or emotions towards someone.

That doesn’t mean that’s your overall impression of them. But I think that acknowledging these fleeting feelings is key to understanding each other – which brings me back to “you don’t get me!”

I have an incredible boyfriend, we’ve been together almost four years now, and I love him to bits. He knows me surprisingly well – he knows my tired and hangry signals (the hangry ones are easier to interpret) and understands that when I go into “creative mode” that I want to be alone. To all intents and purposes he “gets me” – better than anyone else ever has.

This “creative mode” switching on can mean quite literally stopping mid-conversation, me starting to hum something, taking my phone out, and starting to record as I walk away from him and lock myself in a different room. And he’s just supposed to understand this.

Do you know the feeling when inspiration has struck and you deflect them away because that fledgling idea is so fleeting and fragile, and in that moment you prioritise not losing this fleeting idea? And you know that you should feel bad, but you don’t want to let yourself, because feeling that now will distract you from the concept that you’re clinging on to so tightly in that moment. The concept that you’re ignoring your partner for. Once it’s immortalised, it’s safe to think and feel again. And to make it up to them.

“You can still do things. Just don’t say words, or hum, or whistle please” – is that an acceptable request to make of your partner on little or no warning? I believe that some of the aspects of my personality that make me suited for songwriting are also aspects that make me need my songwriting. These vulnerable, contemplative, self-doubting, vividly imaginative aspects mean that I can linger on parts of my life that are far in the past, and sometimes I do this without my mind giving them permission. He understands this about me, and I’m incredibly lucky that he does see that request as reasonable – because he sees that it’s one of the ways I take care of myself.

So what’s with the occasional feeling of this gulf between us, when I’m feeling alone on the other side of a chasm from him? And much as he tries to bridge it, it doesn’t tend to work in those moments. And even more worryingly why do I seem to think it’s his responsibility to bridge that gap?

I believe that everyone has these moments of self doubt, and one of our main differences is how we feel about them and how we react.

Like I said, I feel like it’s his responsibility to bridge that chasm if I’m feeling vulnerable and hurt, and I’ve retreated into myself. It’s not, and I know this in my normal day-to-day moods.

But sometimes about being vulnerable makes me want him to prove that he knows me best of all. That he sees my peculiarities and flaws and he still loves me when I am feeling low and struggling to love myself. I think this is something that I instinctively know I need in a partner, and I’m guessing a lot of people who suffer from spirals of self-doubt would benefit from.

But at the end of the day, it’s SELF-doubt. Not him-doubt, and the only way out of self-doubt is self-belief. Which (bless him) he indirectly encourages, by showing he’ll always love me, and standing by me. But only I can self-believe in myself. Nobody else can give you your strength.

And that’s why I wrote World For Two. You can have a listen and read the lyrics here.