The story behind the song #3: "Brave One"
This is my first single, my first music video for this project, and the first song that I felt really expressed the anguish that I was experiencing in the early days of my injury. When things go terribly wrong in life, there is a pressure to pretend like everything is all good in order to assure those around you (especially fair weather friends) that they will only have to temporarily deal with your hardship. Not all the people I expected to stick around through the thick of things did, and some amazing people surprised me and stepped up to support me through it all. I suppose tragedy brings out one's true color. Perhaps I also pressured myself into forcing a smile each day in the hospital when receiving visitors; looking back I think I was trying to shield them from experiencing the true magnitude of the catastrophe. I didn't want people I loved to freak out and abandon me, after all I had heard sad stories of lovers and friends leaving each other after life-altering events. That pressure combined with all the other crap the universe had served me began to crush me, like a paper cup crumpling into an indistinguishable little ball.
So I wrote this song. It was an honest backlash against the weight I was feeling: of forcing that smile, of feeling afraid that people would leave me, of pretending like everything was ok. I felt liberated to belt whatever air I had in my punctured lungs, even if it didn't change anything. Over time as I refined this song and worked with my producer friends, Modern Future, to give it that cinematic polish I realized that this is a universal experience. Whether someone experiences a tragic accident or simply goes through a hard patch in life, we all feel kicked down at some point and struggle to keep the people around us from separating themselves in order to not be dragged down (I think of the classic blues song "Nobody loves you when you're down and out"). "Brave One" is a sober and dramatic tune, but more than anything, I hope people can connect with the sense of honesty I tried to convey.
When I shot the music video with my good friend Will Tyner, we excluded the wheelchair and made the concept very simple. I'd constantly be in a state of falling, not wearing much makeup and sometimes not very much clothing. I wanted to bare my paralyzed body as it was without detracting people's attention with the presence of my chair. In making this music video I decided that this was to my purpose as an artist -- to tell it as it is. My story is clearly not relatable to most people but my hope is to convey the greater human experience in the pursuit of love, fulfillment, and resolution after great loss.