maybe all the world is insecure
beloved: story behind the song - by Jon Foreman
When I can’t sleep, and everything feels wrong and broken, I pick up my guitar.
2020 was a horrible year for pretty much anything other than songwriting.
Ours is a fractured world where community is hard to find. When we can’t find community, we settle for tribalism instead. If a community is defined as a group of people united by a common love, tribalism is her evil twin: united not by love, but by hatred or fear. Tribalism is a knee jerk response to a world that feels overwhelming. This fight or flight impulse that is within me as well: to fear and hate that which I do not understand, that which is different than me.
“Beloved” is my response to the tribalism within and around me.
I wanted to set the tone for the album with this song: addressing the listener as you and seeing myself in the face staring back at me. Could it be that maybe we need each other? Maybe we need our differences?
'Beloved' is a song that attempts to see “you” as you are, rather than as an “it” that can be commoditized or used. Love is only possible in this exchange. In this surrender, this humility, this intentionality.
“Beloved” attempts to define my highest worth as a human as one who is beloved, not what I can achieve materially. In this realization of identity, my fear, my doubt, my panic is put in the proper context. Yes, these do exist- but these fluorescent lights are hard to see in the orbit of a much larger star. I may be seen as a number, or an “it” by the world around me, but that is not my identity. Nor is it yours.
This is the only song on the record that we wrote with our producer, Tony Berg. The chord changes in the chorus of this song were inspired by a Zoom call with Tony, (they’re deceptively tricky- the melody leaves the original key and comes back without letting the listener know what happened!) It’s rare for us to write a song with the producer. I think it’s only happened a couple times before. There’s a line in this song that’s even more unique: it was written specifically to Tony. It’s almost as if the song breaks character and addresses a conversation that isn’t referenced in the song itself. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before.
“And I still don’t think I’m wrong,
To be so earnest in these broken longing songs.”
Funny thing is, I knew I didn’t have to tell him that the line was for him. He knew. During this line, if you listen closely, there’s a background vocal that sings “broken breaking songs.” It’s the wrong lyric, but I wanted to leave it in there because I love the disagreement. It shows that even in my resolve I still am a bit unsure.
Music can be a communication that transcends lyrics, and the journey of this record was certainly a long road. But at the end of the album, I am so thankful not only for the music that they made but the friendship that formed along the way. The album felt like a living experiment of the songs: In a world that is falling apart, is there something stronger than the differences that can bring us together? I suppose the answer might be summed up like this: in spite of our differences, I truly love Tony, and I feel loved by him as well.
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