I’m currently (somewhat belatedly) showcasing each track from my latest album Coming Home in a “behind the song” blog series. I hope some listeners find it interesting or helpful. “Bronze” is the third track. For convenience, the lyrics and YouTube & Spotify streams are at the bottom of this post.
This is one of the songs that started its life a year before its release. I had the music for the end of the song (from “Now my only goal is to sacrifice…”) first, which is rare for me. I usually have lyrical ideas first, or both at the same time. That’s because I was playing around with different types of chords I don’t normally play (cowboy chords ftw!) and seeing if I could come up with something cool. It’s one of my favorite bits of music I’ve written so far, so this song will always have a special place in my heart.
At first I didn’t have a suitable lyric. I wrote a few different dummy lyrics that I knew I wouldn’t use, because they weren’t compelling enough for me. Eventually during my lyrical improvisations, I hit upon this one that I ended up with, and I just loved it! However, that was in 2020, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t think of an actual song to make out of this one snippet. I didn’t even know what part of the song it should be. It didn’t really seem like a chorus or a verse, so I did eventually decide it would be the ending of a song. I just didn’t know what the song would be. I tried a few different ideas, but none of them worked that well.
Finally, last summer I made myself sit down and brainstorm ideas until I found one I actually liked. I was like, “okay, ‘at least I’m not dreaming about winning the Olympics,’ maybe there’s something in there.” That’s when I came up with the bronze metaphor. I’m pretty pleased I came up with that because it really solidified the original idea I came up with, and completed the idea I wanted to express.
I kept this one acoustic because, as with many of my songs, it was a simple idea calling for a simple song. It’s not that I don’t think any of these songs could be good, or even improved, with a fuller production. It’s just that my skills with arranging and producing are still developing, and there is always a chance I’ll do more harm than good. With songs that scream out for a more punk/rock treatment, I take that risk. But with simple songs, I err on the side of caution and leave it be.
This one ended up being the least favorite of a lot of my friends, family, and supporters. (My very supportive, but very honest, mother told me it was the only song on the release that she didn’t like!) That’s kind of the way things go, though. Whichever songs have the most meaningful lyrics to me, and often my favorite music too, often end up being everyone else’s least favorite! And their favorites are often my least favorite. I have come up with some theories, but to be honest I don’t know really know why that happens, and I probably never will. I don’t worry too much about it. I’ll just keep doing my best to balance what I like with what everyone else likes!
I remember the first time I realized
That anyone could play at this game
And maybe it wasn’t so hard
To achieve every one of my dreams
But I’ve come up against too many obstacles to count
And every day it just seems harder but I’ve figured out
That I can be happy with the bronze
I can be happy with so much less
I’m lucky to be in this game at all
Feeling like this song is my life purpose
I can be happy with the bronze, I can be happy with the bronze
I remember a time I thought
That every step in this journey would be fun
And it would never have to feel like work
As long as you were doing what you love
But it’s a slog just to get by
When you don’t know if you’ll ever be great
But you can still be happy
If you just accept your fate
There are feats that are nearly impossible
For a normal person like me to complete
I won’t ever win a Grammy
And I won’t ever be Paul McCartney
I will never be the best
So now my only goal is to sacrifice everything I have
Just to do what I love for a living
I know it was never gonna be easy
But at least I’m not dreaming about winning the Olympics