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Absence: Behind the Song

September 16, 2016

 

Attached is an mp3 of Absence as well as the lyrics. Following your own preferences, you can read the explanation first, second, while listening to the song, or after reading the lyrics. The songs were recorded on my laptop in the newly designated music room in our home. Pictures were yet to be hung, we only had cajons (wooden box hand drums. WARNING: do NOT google Cajons… I made that mistake at work once and had an awkward conversation with IT which they found hilarious and I was just embarrassed not to mention scarred for life) for chairs, and an old rug passed down from my parents lay on top of new carpet in an attempt to “add character” to the room. It worked. I love being in this room and although it was not the best for recording, I enjoyed writing the songs and recording them in this space to share with you today.

 

Absence by Tricia Fox 

Lyrics and Mp3 https://soundcloud.com/tricia-fox-music/absence

 

Here lies an absence of a meaning I was told
By a girl I knew so well some time ago
She told me once she told me twice she told me one more time Knowing that I needed all three throughout my life

A road less traveled though still traveled on some days By the ones who knew the scripture of the brave
I had my moments where I too could stand so strong Hand in hand with the meaning and the song

You’ve got to feel to know You’ve got to feel to know

You’ve got to feel to know You’ve got to feel to know

 

They asked for proof and I too wanted to know
So I looked outside to find the facts from long ago And I dissected every word from every tune
Placed them in basket scattered all around my room

Full baskets, empty text, theories of clay
No longer curious a slow and aching pain
A heart left out simply sitting in a cage
Waiting for her voice to breathe worth in someday

You’ve got to feel to know You’ve got to feel to know

You’ve got to feel to know You’ve got to feel to know

Is it enough to know without nurture and value? Or will passion wilt and joy go on with out you My passions tiptoed out without a sound
I cannot blame them I really wasn’t around

I focused more on if I’d fail or if I’d fall

Then on if I befriended them at all

You’ve got to feel to know You’ve got to feel to know

You’ve got to feel to know You’ve got to feel to know

As hope would have it I will sing or I will die Along with meaning delivered to my life Lucky for me my friend
She knew that it was time

To remind me of the truth I tried to find
She said, “don’t think to much, you’ve got to let it flow You’ve got to feel to know”

You’ve got to feel to know You’ve got to feel to know

You’ve got to feel to know You’ve got to feel to know

 

 

Explanation of “Absence”

 

As odd as this sounds for a singer songwriter to say, writing isn’t my most natural form of communication. Singing gives me access to words that a blank screen and information in my head does not. At the risk of sounding too honest and vulnerable, I had a hell of a time writing the capstone for my masters. It became almost an unnecessary struggle that piled on itself as time went on, causing anxiety and some downright mean thoughts toward myself, which likely stunted my ability to communicate:

 

A heart left out simply sitting in a cage

 

When I took a step back to understand why I was having such a hard time, I realized that my capstone no longer felt meaningful. I was so focused on academically proving something I have always internally trusted through experience. But now this experience felt almost foreign to me, as I hadn’t written a song in months. One of the reasons I believe in the power of the humanities is because I have seen songwriting help not only myself in times of struggle, but also kids undergoing cancer treatment and teens in drug and alcohol recovery. This song is a result of that realization and a particularly hard day.

I thought about not sharing the details of this particular song. It feels so personal and specific to my situation, and the lyrics seem straightforward. But I will share two stories about it that connect to my schooling in positive psychology.

 

The first story is about how this song was buoyed by the power of community. I am lucky to have a great group of friends and fellow musicians in Houston, Texas. Last year, we started a songwriting group with a prompt each month, encouraging each other to write songs based on that prompt and share them with each other. I highly recommend this model to any creative, professional, or otherwise. It has opened my songwriting to songs that would have passed me by, as well as let me be witness to some truly inspired songs. The songwriting prompt for the get together that spurred this song was “Absence.”

 

Second, the first line of the song, “Here lies an absence of a meaning I was told by a girl I knew so well some time ago,” is referring to me, before this whole process started; the girl that started my degree with such passion, meaning, and the purest of intentions. The last verse, “my friend she knew that it was time to remind me of the truth I tried to find / She said, ‘don’t think too much, you’ve got to let it flow, you’ve got to feel to know,’” is also referring to me, but this time the person who now understands, temporarily at least, that connecting to the meaning behind this capstone is more important than sounding a particular way, impressing leaders in the field, or even making a visible impact. Not an easy lesson, but one I remind myself of anytime anxiety tries to throw me an “I can’t” party. And I am grateful for that lesson. 

 

Tricia Fox is a singer songwriter, thought leader on lyrics and wellbeing, and master of applied positive psychology from the university of Pennsylvania. Join the conversation on lyrics and well-being and to stay up to date on Tricia's music. 

 

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