Behind The Song - Lighting Up The World
Sometimes, I am asked about my songs. Some people want to know what the song is about, how did it get written, WHY did it get written, etc. I could talk all day about that. People who ask this question, well, they’re just my people. I do the same thing to other artists, as well as to people who work in any job, anywhere. I’m a question box. Eternally curious. Seriously. Let’s go to coffee and let me ask you about your life!
But I digress…
When I play my live shows, I like to say a few words about the songs to help people follow along. Every time I do this, I say something different. There are so many stories! So, I wanted to create a central location where I write a little about each song, and this way you can read along, understand, and join in.
The first song on my album, Like The Sun, is...
Lighting Up The World!
Listen along while you read the lyrics if you like:
Read lyrics here:
thought i needed a man
to love me out of my pain
someone to fix me, hold my hand
but oh lord, nothing changed
i ran off like a bat out of hell
i went house to house bed to bed
i stopped for a second to catch my breath
and felt the sunshine warm my head
i looked to the sky and i thought what if i was
lighting up the world, and i didn’t even know?
oh, nobody told me but i’m getting the feeling that i’m
lighting up the world, right here on my own
a golden-haired woman walked by
she found me on a ledge and helped me down
she said “the sun always shines, day and night
and it’s high time i let it out”
i said, “ma’am i’m as hollow as a cave
and i’m as dark as the day is long”
she passed me a shovel and said “come on babe
just cause you can’t see it, don’t mean it’s gone.”
Let me start this next part with a disclaimer. Songs have endless meanings. I don’t have endless finger strength. Ok let’s get going…
Lighting Up The World is my swampy homage to therapy, and the process of learning how to love my swampy self. Swampy swampy swampy.
I started this song with the chorus melody. I went on a walk on a trail and hummed things into my phone, and I came up with something I liked. I like coming up with melodies away from an instrument when I’m writing alone, and then adding chords later. I went to my piano and put chords on it, and it sounded, well, cheesy as a cheetah (I’ve never said that before in my life. Still keepin’ it.) Then, I took it to Bradley to hear a slide guitar on it. I liked it way better, and I knew I wanted to keep working with it.
The first verse is about my search for something that would help my pain go away. I hopped from thing to thing, person to person, like Goldilocks looking for just the right chair. I added more and more baggage to my already heavy load, and I showed myself no mercy. It was a brutal existence.
I work a lot on my mental and emotional health. I kind of was forced to. When I was growing up, the world just got too hard for me, and I developed depression, OCD, and eventually a pretty rough eating disorder. Going to counseling literally saved my life. I started in 2009, and I haven’t stopped since. I was given a forum to feel my pain and consequently, an unending supply of song ideas, and I started to see the clouds part a little bit more every week. In 2015, at the time I wrote this song, something happened in my emotional state, and the clouds opened up really wide. It was like my brain said “Yay good job here’s some freedom,” and I started to see that I had more worth than I realized. That’s how the chorus to Lighting Up The World was born.
The second verse talks about a golden-haired woman. That woman is my therapist, Dr. Chris Hilicki. During my CD release show at Sopapillas in March, I publicly thanked her for all she has done for me. That felt good. She told me once, “Jessie, be Like The Sun (hence, the album title!). The sun is shining whether we see it or not. Sometimes, it’s bright and clear outside, and you can see the sun shining from everywhere. Sometimes, clouds come and cover it up. But it doesn’t quit shining when that happens. It doesn’t change its form. It just keeps on being the sun.”
I’d like to take this time to say - If any of you are struggling with your own mind battles, know you are not alone, and you can email me any time and I’d love to help you find resources. firstname.lastname@example.org
Now, let’s talk production. Music. Instruments. All the sounds.
Produced by Neilson, this song was tracked in about, oh, 10 minutes. Which is nuts, even by Nashville standards. I credit this to the session musicians and Neilson, who understood this sound and this song at some kind of crazy molecular level. The stars just aligned, and it was the most fun I’ve ever had recording.
Dean Marold - upright bass
Neilson Hubbard - producer, percussion
Bradley Minnigan - acoustic guitar
Will Kimbrough - all the guitars
Evan Hutchings - drums and chains and jangles and whatnot
I hope you like the song, and I hope to see you at a show! Don’t forget to share my music with your friends and whatnot. :)