"that which is most personal is most universal."
a friend and mentor said that to me this past summer on a songwriter's retreat on a lake in Indiana.
it always boggles my mind when I hear a song and something said in the lyrics is so so specific to a place and time and feeling and object that I personally do not relate to, but I somehow still understand that moment and the emotion that it caused and created.
"Atlas" talks about specific parts of the U.S, but those places actually represent people in my life:
Tallahassee holds early memories, San Francisco says they cease to exist
I'll find what I've been told I'll dig for what was once gold
oh no no no
"Atlas" is a lot about family, and about reconciling past and present circumstances in my life and why they are the way they are now. The chorus is the simplest truths i've ever known and said. Family patterns and habits are so hard to break generation to generation, and I remember speaking into that through these lyrics:
we're not pure, nor wise
we're no good, we try
we come, we go
we do what we know
The third verse didn't come until my grandma died a little over a year ago, and I'm learning this feeing more and more the older I get and the older I see the people around me get: we look at our families, our moms, our dads, and to quote, "they are not the same mom or dad I once had." Because of their health, their old age, their changing over time, we grieve the loss of knowing them the same way.
Springfield, place i've driven through
I miss the you I knew
the atlas in my hand tells me stories i don't understand
oh no no no