20 questions

My first husband and i were a poor match in every way except sexually.  There is only so far a relationship based on sex can go. Mother’s should really tell their daughters that! i found it out the long hard old fashioned way. A decade together is about as much as you get. Toward the end you can expect it to get bloody. One of those days, emotionally hung over, i could not get out of my pajamas. i sat at the piano where this riff just wanted out. The more i spiraled into it, the more the certainty in me was taking shape. There is no getting better, this is as good as it gets. If that is not what you have planned for yourself, then you have to find a way to crawl out from under it. Fast!

For ten years i was the advocate of hope. Now i was going to be the one to throw in the towel, wave the white flag of surrender, and call it quits? The more i played that melody the more i understood the simple elegance of the truth.  i recorded the riff on a tape recorder that i used to use to capture song ideas (until it broke, and i could find no one to repair it). Sound landscaping so to speak. Took the tape into the car, and drove around (still in my pajamas) letting the words come. I could hear the rhythms, and fragments of sentences. We were on to something i was sure. i had the carcass of a song. It possessed my mind. took over all the space, so there was no room for fear or worry (my two head-tripping allies). Over two days we danced, wrestled, slept, and worked together. So it was that on the third day, in the early hours of the morning the song dragged me out of bed (as they are known to do) she wanted a private word while the world around us slept. “Giving us some peace”, she said. i took my note book and pencil – i know that “private word” means “write this down!” i wrote it all down, and in a two hour blast the song went from carcass to fully fledged (in a strange process of poetic reverse engineering). This love was born.

i recorded the original version of the song, with Kevin Leicher at DarkStar studios in Newtown. He added with delicate sensitivity to the track. He is a truly masterful musician (and a great man).

When the project, as part of it’s evolution, moved over into the care of Peter Pearlson he asked me, gently but firmly to rewrite the verses. it took a while for me to let go of the attachment i had developed to the song as it was. So i went in silence to the song world, and asked for guidance. The answer came back. Simplify. So i took the feelings in the verses, the complex poetic language to express a ruptured gut, and took it to the simplest form. Showed the new verses to Peter. He insisted we take a vocal right away – we did, and that is what you hear on the track. This Love?

The questions in the this love? clip come from notes i made the last time my (now ex) husband and i were in therapy. here they are in no specific order. It just seems strange now, looking back, that every time we would disagree he would seethe “what is this!? 20 Questions!?” and it boiled down to these very 20 questions that gave me the insight to walk away from our relationship and it’s weak foundation.

  1. Can you let go?
  2. What is the worst that could happen?
  3. How much of this is you?
  4. Can you sleep alone?
  5. Can you be silent, and listen?
  6. Have you ever felt secure?
  7. Can you still trust him?
  8. What are you so angry about?
  9. Is it really all his fault?
  10. What have you got to lose?
  11. Do you see a future together?
  12. Is there only one truth?
  13. Can you forget?
  14. Do you still love him?
  15. Will you ever leave him?
  16. What would make you happy?
  17. Do you hate men?
  18. Will you forgive?
  19. Are you being a victim?
  20. What are you so scared of?

Just like “Temperance” at the end of the clip, i cried my little broken heart out to the piano, and as always in my life she was there. Solid. i leaned into her, and side by side singing through the slaughter we emerged as Song’s daughters, and in that act Victorious.

When the long dark night of integrity comes, may there be some act of worthship in your soul to light your way, hear your pain, and lift you beyond yourself.

You have my love always x



2 thoughts on “20 questions

  1. Claire says:

    this love is my favorite song. i have a different connection to this song and now that I have read this blog it make sense, but im in love with it

    • nicoletheron says:

      i took a risk being so transparent about my relationship with the song…sometimes it ruins it for people. Very grateful that is not the case here x the songs love you too, as do i x x x

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