#7 Anxiety (“The Fine Print” track by track)

For the third album in a row, I’ve decided to showcase each track in a “behind the song” blog series. I hope some listeners find it interesting or helpful. “Anxiety” is the seventh track from my latest release, The Fine Print. For convenience, the lyrics and YouTube & Spotify streams are at the bottom of this post.

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This song came about because I decided I should write a song about anxiety, something I’ve experienced to varying degrees for all my life. It plays a big role in my life, so I thought it was important.

I started this song when I was on a big free writing kick. In other words, I would set a timer for 5 minutes or whatever and just free write on a topic. I really need to do this more often than I do, because I would probably never get writer’s block writing that way.

But anyway, that’s how I decided to start my “anxiety” song. I sat and wrote about how anxiety makes me feel, trying to focus on the sensory and physiological aspects (as opposed to emotional and behavioral). A lot of those phrases made it into the song in some form or other. In fact, by the time I was done with my free writing, the lyrics kind of wrote itself because I had so many great phrases to choose from that it was easy to form it into a structure and rhyme it and everything. That’s the cool thing about free writing.

Lyrically I think it came out perfect. It describes so perfectly how my anxiety feels, which is exactly what I intended it to do. And if I can say so, I think it’s well-written — I think I should be allowed to say so, because I’ll be the first to admit when something of mine is poorly written.

The melody came pretty easily too. It’s usually not so hard for me to write melodies if the lyrics are already finished. I just came up with something that sounded pretty to my ear, and calming. I felt that was appropriate for the lyrics — even as they’re describing what it feels like to have anxiety, they are also a calming song in the throes of it.

In keeping with the calming mood, I decided to keep the production mainly acoustic, but I did some little experimentation with strings. I had to keep them pretty subtle, because they are virtual strings and I noticed that becomes pretty obvious when you try anything remotely complicated. But subtle notes and chords sound great, to my ear at least. I also added some harmonies — if you listen closely in the last part of the song, there are vocal harmonies in unison with the strings, although it’s pretty hard to hear them if you’re not listening for them.

Overall I was pretty satisfied with the simple production of this song and the overall calming vibes that the lyrics, melody, and strings give it. I hope I did justice to all of my fellow anxiety sufferers out there. At least I can say for sure that I did justice to myself!

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LYRICS

It starts with a shortness of breath
I don’t know why it feels like someone’s sitting on my chest
Or maybe like we’re floating out in space without any oxygen

If I listened to my body, it would always have me believe
That nothing’s ever gonna be okay
But I believe the doctors when they say it’s only anxiety
And nothing else is really wrong with me

So I can focus on my face, feel the tension, let it go
Still my arms and still my legs and let myself sink into bed
Don’t search for answers I don’t need to know

And the worry is never far from my mind
When I’m lying in bed after the day fades to night
It’s brought on by the silent, still darkness when I know I should be sleeping

If I took my thoughts at face value
Then everything would be a threat
And not a thing would ever go my way
But there’s a safer part inside my brain
That says it’s probably gonna be okay
And this is probably not my dying day

And for now I feel secure and I’ve got a roof above my head
For now I’m safe and warm, tomorrow isn’t my concern
As long as for today I have been fed

But anyway, my greatest worry I can’t shake
Is the possibility of living for a century with unfulfilled dreams
Resigned and given up and just a shell of who I am today

So I can focus on my face, feel the tension, let it go
Still my arms and still my legs and let myself sink into bed
Every single day I’m making progress

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