So, Sean, why’d you write that song…?

“Me And My Sanity”

I grew up an only child, something that occasionally caused people to scorn me. “Oh, you have your own room? Just wait ‘til you go to college. What are you gonna do then?”

I thought this was patently ridiculous. You’re blaming me for being an only child? How was that my decision?

But like it or not, they were right. Going away to college was a never-ending series of struggles for me (maybe I should write an album about that…) and many of them centered around having to share a very small space with someone who often had different thoughts, behaviors, and (most annoyingly) biological clocks than I did.

Writing “Me And My Sanity” was a stress reliever, and having it under my belt gave me a boost of confidence whenever I went into a new roommate relationship. They may keep me up at night, but they’ll have to go the rest of their lives wondering if they somehow inspired this song…(insert evil laugh here)

P.S. I’ve never met anyone who’s role-played a 50 Shades of Grey fanfiction at 3:00 AM, but I’ve known a few who have tried to pull off some guitar shredding and pogo-stick racing at ungodly hours. At least, I assume that’s what those sounds were…

 

“Rusty Penny” 

I’ve been very privileged to go on vacation with my parents to a new destination every summer. There’s something magical about traveling; the rush of adrenaline that comes with packing everything you need into a few bags and leaving your everyday life behind for a week.

But I’ve also noticed that that feeling wears away very quickly. By that third night, after driving in the same car and seeing the same landscapes and sleeping in hotel rooms that all look same, you start to wonder what’s happening in that everyday life you’ve left behind. You start to miss your home. You start to miss your comfortable routine. You start to miss people you once knew, and may wish they were there with you, only to realize that they don’t wish the same.

“Rusty Penny” is about that realization.

 

“See You”

We’ve all done things that we didn’t want to do just to get close to someone. Did you really want to go to church last Sunday? No, but you knew she might be there. Did you really want to go to that SAT information session? Nah, but you heard he might be going. Did you really want to volunteer at your school’s fundraiser last Friday evening? Well, not really, but maybe…

And doesn’t it just hurt like the Dickens when they don’t show up?

 

“Drive Away”

Usually, songs have an expiration date. After a certain amount of time, they just don’t mean anything to you anymore. That big hit pop song from last summer isn’t as catchy as it was six months ago. That hilarious theme song from that one cartoon isn’t as funny now that you’re in high school. And that super-personal, bare-bones piano ballad that hit you in the “feels” every time when you were a freshman is hollow now that you’re a senior. As a song-creator I often feel the same way: After a while, the creations just don’t ring true. I grow and change, and my understanding of the world changes, too. It’s actually a big fear of mine that I’ll one day look back at everything I’ve created and think it’s all wrong and won’t feel satisfied with any of it.

But some songs don’t do that. Some songs tap into emotions that never go away and only become more and more relatable the more you live and form your understanding of the world. “Drive Away” was written about a very specific event, and I was just learning how to really express myself through music when I wrote it. But seven years and dozens of performances later, this song has only gotten better in my mind. It’s a song that holds a special place in my heart and helped me through a very rough patch of time. If you find yourself in a similar rough patch, I hope that it can do the same for you.

 

“Whenever I Fall”

Creating something should always be fulfilling, but that doesn’t mean it should be easy. If it requires no thought, that almost always means it’s worthless (much to my eternal frustration).

I also don’t buy the whole “I didn’t write this song, I just held the pen,” concept. The idea that art exists in some other dimension just waiting for a bridge into our world completely undercuts the importance of our own experiences. We create our stories, they aren’t written for us.

But then there are songs like “Whenever I Fall,” a song that fell out of thin air, into my brain, and out of my mouth in one sitting and with no effort on my part. The funny thing is, I almost wanted this song to be a worthless creation (I was writing it as an assignment for a class), but it just refused to comply. I remember listening to the rough demo and thinking, “Man…this actually sounds pretty good. How’d that happen?”

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