{Guest Post} Behind the Lyrics with Rachel Gearinger

I have a dear friend, and her name is Rachel. Maybe you’ve met her before, here and here. We’ve been friends since 4th grade. That’s a long time! And since the Valentine’s Day candy is still fresh and the flowers alive, I thought it was the perfect moment to share our long-time friend love with you via Rachel’s latest musical venture. That’s right, because my friend is now in an official band!

Ever since I’ve known her, Rachel has been singing, but never professionally.  Together, we have belted it out more times than I can count. In her car, lying on her bed, walking down the street gathering strange glances from passerbys — you name it. But this year she surprised me by taking it a step further. She began looking for opportunities to sing with musicians, eventually finding a partner in Juney Shober, talented guitarist and COSI science guy (yep!).  The result of their musical collaboration is a budding folksy type band called Arts & Craft.

 

Arts&Craft_ColumbusMusic_ColumbusFolkMusicRachel crooning and Juney strumming away. Photo courtesy of Dominic Francesco.

 

*Warning, entering sentimental territory..*

To see a friend do something that, on some level, is scary as hell, inspires me to no end. I am so proud of Rachel for exposing her beautiful voice and words to the world and for finding a person who nurtures and feeds that goal. Good friends always, in some way or another, make you take a look at your life and those ideas and dreams you often push aside as unrealistic or that just flat out seem too difficult. They give you a gentle push and cause to think, “Why not?”

Since Rachel is also a talented writer, I thought it would be fun if she shared the lyrics to one of her songs, “Little Wooden Box”, and explained how she came up with the lyrics and what they represent to her. Below, Rachel discusses what it feels like to conform yourself to other people’s expectations and how limiting yourself to “four walls and a corner” is never enough.

Scroll down to watch Arts & Craft’s music video for Little Wooden Box (created by Emily Brown and Brian Kellett), and discover the story behind the lyrics.

 

Arts&Craft


 

Little Wooden Box

Four walls and a corner to keep my things,

is all a girl could ever need.

Enough time for a night or two,

booze and songs to quell the mood

All a girl like me could ever need.

Mend your shirts, cut your hair, flash my big doe eyes,

always left the porch light on for you,

always crossed right over left

then you took that road out west

I’ll still leave the porch light on for you.

Oh, you put me in a little wooden box,

sealed it up right just to forget

left on a bus just to see that girl

caught me choking on your air.

Kiss me on the cheek before you leave my side

yeah, you’ll be back, the last I heard.

Leave her voice in your dreams,

clean her lipstick off your sleeve.

You said that you’d be back, or so I heard.

But I can barely breathe, no room to hang my arms

Hold your head up straight so you can see

tell me you’re the better

Is that the lie you fed her?

hold my head up straight so I can see

Oh, you put me in a little wooden box,

sealed it up right just to forget

I’m steppin’ over the walls

but I don’t need your hand

I see the window, swear I’ll jump

I see the window, swear I’ll jump

Can’t put me in a little wooden box,

seal me up right just to forget

leave on a bus just to see that girl

won’t be choking on your air.

won’t be choking on your air.

♦♦♦

Little wooden box is the first song we wrote as a duo. It has remained a favorite of ours to play and a favorite among our friends. One of the things I like about writing songs is the music adds an entirely new dimension to the words. The song is interesting because the lyrics are serious, but the music is playful. It is not what it seems and requires you to look deeper to understand what it offers. This aspect relates entirely to the meaning of the song. I am lucky to be in a band with an extremely talented person who respects my words and makes them more effective through his music. Writing songs together is a beautiful, messy, collaborative process. I couldn’t do it without him.

Arts&Craft

Photo Courtesy of Adam Hope

I am horrible at writing something that holds no meaning for myself. Sometimes this really bugs me. Like, why can’t I just write something without feeling completely exhausted? I don’t know how to write like that and I’m not sure it’s useful. I was a poet before I started writing lyrics, so the things I write tend to be metaphorical and wrought with tension.

The song talks about being confined by another person. It’s about being compartmentalized into a small corner of someone’s life. The speaker tries to do everything right; care for her man, be attractive for him, look out for him with the act of leaving the porch light on, even after he goes to see another girl. She tries to convince herself her corner is enough; the space she occupies in this person’s life is sufficient. But underneath she is unhappy. Eventually, the speaker can’t breathe; there is no room to move around and be an individual. She decides to step out of the box.

The literal idea of the song is silly, being put in a box, and at first people don’t know what to think about the title. Is it about a coffin? A metaphorical coffin, yes. Being put in a box refers to being restricted by preconceptions. People seem to believe it is easy to judge exactly who a person is. Once they decide who you are to them, it is hard to change. The person you feel you are is completely different from the person someone else expects you to be.

We are all, sometimes unknowingly, categorized and stored away in boxes. Being in a literal box makes it hard to breathe; you’re claustrophobic. These feelings are akin to how it feels when someone expects you to be a certain person. I think this is especially hard when the person who is tucking you away into a box is someone you are in relationship. You can care for them deeply, so trying to escape from the person you are to them is difficult.

RachelJamming

Photo Courtesy of Adam Hope

The line “all a girl like me could ever need” is falling into people’s idea of who you are instead of breaking out and discovering your own. Saying to yourself “this is happening because of me; I deserve this.” I think this is an easy trap to fall into. But “four walls and a corner” is not all a girl could ever need.

I like that this song is approachable to so many people. I wrote it with a certain meaning in mind, but as we shared this song with more people, the meaning evolved. A divorced, ex-housewife told me this song made her think of being locked away in a house all day. It is one of the best feelings to elicit this sort of connection through something you write.

♦♦♦

Thank you Rachel for contributing your words. Follow Arts & Craft on Facebook for updates, and if you’re in the Columbus area, be sure to see Rachel and Juney at their next open mic!

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