#6 Sins (“Broken Heart” track by track)

I’m currently showcasing each track from my newest album, Broken Heart, in a “behind the song” blog series. I hope some listeners find it interesting or helpful. “Sins” is the sixth track. For convenience, the lyrics and YouTube & Spotify streams are at the bottom of this post.

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It’s unfortunate that between the title “Sins” and the explicit marking, this song is probably going to get more clicks than most of the others out of curiosity and people’s fondness for explicit words. I think this is a really good song and very personally meaningful to me, but I’m not sure it’s the best on the album!

This is one I had in the pipeline for years. Every time I’d go on a songwriting marathon, I’d go back to that song, but I’d always be like, “nah, still not ready to be written.” I’d write a few lines here and there, write a new and improved outline for exactly what I wanted it to say (both overall and in each part of the song), I’d write and rewrite a chorus or hook, and then I’d scrap it all and give up for the time being. I don’t know why, but I just couldn’t write it in a way I was happy with. It was one of those things that felt really deep, meaningful, and personal, and like I could feel exactly what I wanted it to say, but I didn’t know how to put it exactly into words.

But just a little while ago, even as I was beginning to record the other songs for the album, I wanted this one to be a part of it too, so I finally forced myself to sit down and channel all my inspiration to write it, one piece at a time. And I’m honestly happier with it than I even expected I’d be! It was another song that conveyed exactly what I wanted it to.

The original spark of inspiration, hook, and title was close to what it is now, but with the word “nail,” ha: “Some people want to nail you for your sins, but I think that’s how I would live if I thought that I could get away with it.” The “nail you for your sins” thing just came to me, it wasn’t something I sat and thought about. But when I did, I was like, what does that even mean? Was I trying to reference crucifixion? Or arrest and imprisonment? In the end, I realized that there wasn’t anything in the word “nail” that actually said what I wanted to, what I really meant was “judge” or “vilify,” but honestly, “hate” sounded better and also fit pretty well with the meaning, so I went with that instead.

So, the theme of this song is something I’ve thought about as someone who rarely does anything “wrong” and has a reputation for being perfectly sweet and innocent – which I’m not completely, and I don’t like it. Am I always attracted to “bad” people? No. Am I attracted to sociopaths and the worst people? Definitely not. But I do sometimes respect and admire people who are a little bit more openly hedonistic than I am, something I’ve never felt comfortable to be.

Now, let’s be real, much of my lack of hedonistic behavior has to do with fears and anxieties about health consequences to be honest, but some of it is also social fear and anxiety, and that’s more what this song is about. What my lifestyle choices have nothing to do with, though, is religious moral sensibilities: I’m an atheist and I don’t subscribe to the idea that there’s such a thing as a “sin” if it’s not hurting anyone else, and I think that’s one reason I resent people (many of whom subscribe to these ideals) thinking I never do anything wrong.

So that’s kind of the main idea that sparked the song, and I think centering it around an intense desire for a specific “bad boy” character (or bad girl or otherwise, depending on the listener — I didn’t gender it) made it more interesting and compelling.

The only line that I have to say doesn’t totally fit into the story is the one in the bridge that says, “You say you hate the game, but you only ever fall for the ones who live to play.” First off, I’ll address the possible elephant in the room: it does sound like I might have had “Blank Space” (a song that I cover) in my head a little bit when I wrote that line, ha! At least it takes a different perspective than Taylor, though, and doesn’t just imitate her.

Second, although at first glance it seems to come out of nowhere, it fits into the bad boy crush story that I was writing. As it is an unrequited love album, this is the part that addresses that. In the movies, the bad boys always looove the good girls. But in real life, sometimes they don’t. In this case, not so much “good” in the obvious sense, but artless perhaps. A lot of people say they appreciate straightforwardness and genuineness, but then they’re charmed by coy and clever quips as much as the next guy. I write to express what’s inside of me, not to write a perfectly coherent story – and this line felt good and true for me, so in it went and stayed.

LYRICS

People think that I’m a delicate flower
Who’s never had a dirty thought
But I’m not
Some of them would hate me
If they could see inside my mind
And sometimes I kinda wish they would
Because it feels like I’m lying
If I can’t get these things I want, if we can’t thrive
Then I know I’m gonna dream about you
For the rest of my life

Some people want to hate you for your sins
But deep down that’s how I would live
If I thought that I could get away with it
If I thought that I could get away with you

You’re a tough nut to crack
And many times I prove it by showing off my broken teeth
That I know you’ve seen
Last night I had a dream about you and that shit got explosive
The kind of explosive where I think it’s probably better if we didn’t
We’d take this whole city down with us
And that can’t happen
So now there’s really nothing left to do
Except just to go on pretending

To say that I might be in too deep
Is the understatement of the century
And you, you say you hate the game
But you only ever fall for the ones who live to play

And I’m afraid of what you know
And I’m afraid of what I don’t
I’m scared of ending up all alone
And I’ve been fucking terrified to be real with you

Some people want to hate you for your sins
But deep down that’s how I would live
If I thought that I could get away with it
If I thought that I could get away

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