A few years ago, I was walking through the city of Melbourne with my family. The sky was a blue-grey just lighter than the dirty tarmac, and eventually the clouds cracked and started to drizzle. I looked up, and suddenly it struck me how high up the sky is.
I tipped my head back, straining to see all the way to the top of the building I was standing next to, as I’d done in the city many times before. But then I looked above that. I’d never realised before that I could see a gap between the top of the impossibly-tall building, and the bottom of the cloud-cover.
A big gap. I think I could have doubled the building before it scratched the bottom of the cloud.
Fast-forward to January 2021, and I was walking through the city again. I wrote a note in my half-figured-out-lyrics-thought-starters pad that I keep on my phone, that said: “Looking up at sky-scrapers, I realise just how far a raindrop has to fall.”
Then I went home and wrote the rest of the song, tweaking the line and using it as the chorus for what became ‘Giants’:
Looking up at giants, I realise how far a raindrop has to fall.
Usually when I write a song, I start by finding and researching a fairy-tale, then trying to get into a character’s mind and telling their story or how they might be feeling. At the top of the page, I’ll write a few sentences that summarise what the song should be about. My songs often take surprising turns, so the end result is often something I hadn’t considered before, in a way I then have to think through for days. I love it when that happens!
But ‘Giants’ was very different. I had no idea what I wanted to write about, or what I was trying to say. It all came out very metaphorical and vague, with disconnected ideas in no coherent order.
Maybe I would have fixed them more if it was cliche, or a love song, but I felt like there was a meaning somewhere in those lyrics. It had a simple, relaxed charm to it that made me want call it “finished”, even though I couldn’t quite define what I was singing about.
I hadn’t put much effort into the tune, so it was repetitive and similar to a few other songs I’ve written (please don’t compare it too closely to ‘Like You’ 😅). I kept it as a song for me to sing to myself for fun, but decided not to publish it.
That was in January. February to June was one of the busiest semesters I’ve had in my education. I ran out of creative ideas and energy about three-quarters of the way through, but I still had assignments and homework to keep up with for the next eight weeks. I finished the semester using old, unpublished ideas, and scraping through that vague space between ‘inspiration’ and ‘plagiarism’. I became a creative couch potato during the holidays. 😛
In all of that, this song took on a new meaning.
Or maybe I had found the meaning it had always held.
As I closed my laptop at the end of a long day, I found myself finding comfort in the lyrics I’d written at the start of the year. Something in their music’s saying it’ll be okay. I’m stronger than I’d say. I’ll sing along to songs I know…
This won’t be the death of me.
It sounds dramatic, but remembering that I’d outlive the big assignments was a big comfort. I kept thinking of the song, singing it and finding the meaning in it, and eventually decided, this should be shared.
It’s a very simple arrangement; just me and my guitar. It’s how I’ve always sung it, and to make it a big, complicated mix would detract from its rested simplicity. I wanted it to feel like I was singing it to myself, alone in my bedroom.
I hope ‘Giants’ is encouraging to all the busy and overwhelmed people out there, those who believe it’ll be okay, at least for today <3. You’ll get through this!
This distraction makes me see
That I’m stronger than I’d say
This won’t be the death of me,
It must be harder for the rain
They rise to fall back down again
What encourages you when you feel busy and overwhelmed?