It’s my senior year of high school, and I’m about to graduate soon. I don’t mean right now, by the way, I’m setting up the scene with a flashback, so pretend with me.
I was a little over a month away from graduating and the truth was, I was really afraid of what was supposed to come next.
High school wasn’t all that fun for me, in fact, it was actually really difficult. I think I had just recently – and finally – gotten off the medication I was taking for depression and anxiety, but was still going to therapy – I’m trying to remember, but it’s all a little bit foggy. My point is when high school was really that rough and I had only just started to finally become comfortable with it, with myself, with my skin, and with my mindset, the world suddenly pushing you forward and saying, “Your four years here are up, get out there,” you’re literally thinking like, “What the hell? This wasn’t even fun?” and now they’re legally calling you an adult but you can barely get yourself out of bed in the morning? I felt like a disaster.
It was late spring. The sun was out. I was sitting on the grass after school when someone showed me a song by this Irish singer-songwriter. He had a folky, soft kind of vibe, but it was the poetry in his lyrics that I thought was unbelievable. The first time I ever heard Foy Vance was when I heard, “Be The Song.”
I wanna start these posts called Love Letters about my favorite songwriters and their work that I love so I’m putting the link to the song right below this paragraph, and please promise me that you’ll click it.
Promise that you’ll try to imagine an eighteen-year-old who’s been scared and anxious for a very long time, who’s hated the entirety of her high school experience, who doesn’t know how she’s supposed to navigate a world beyond these walls when she can’t even handle what’s inside them, and then imagine her sitting on the grass as she’s fighting these thoughts. It’s something she has been practicing and training and promising herself that she would do. She would tell her thoughts to just shut up and appreciate this sunshine and this green grass and suddenly there’s a soft guitar and an echo, and Foy Vance says,
When nightmares come
Keep you awake
Baby, close your eyes
I’ll take the weight
But I won’t speak
I will refrain and be the song
Just be the song
I teared up just typing that in. It’s literally so beautiful, and promise me you’re not just reading it, you have to hear it. It is the most beautiful calming thing.
This lyric video is the one that I watched when I first heard this song, and it’s the one that I send to people when they tell me they’re going through a rough time, and I just wanted to make sure that I shared that with you. There are other incredible videos of Foy Vance singing this acoustic and live, but this was the one that I came across and it just did wonders for my mind and my soul.
He’s great, you guys. His debut album – are you ready – it was called Hope. It’s LITERALLY called HOPE and the songs on it are all hope, and that’s why we’re here. Just go listen to it.
Foy Vance has become a songwriting inspiration of mine. He’s been Ed Sheeran’s too, and not only for writing but also in life. Once I heard Sheeran say in an interview that Vance doesn’t really seek out the fame or the celebrity. He just goes off and makes music for a living and then goes home and has dinner with his wife and kids. I mean … Ultimate goals. One hundred percent.
Look, I know nobody wants to sit down and read a post for more than like three minutes, and if I were to tell you about all my favorite Foy Vance songs, then you’d be here for days so I’m just gonna pick some of my few favorites and hope that if you really love indie folk, blues, acoustic guitar, and soft revolutions then you’ll look him up.
FOY VANCE SONGS FOR WHEN YOU’RE SAD, ANXIOUS, OR NEED PEACE
If Only You Could See Yourself Like I See You – Hope 2007
“When I look in your light, I see green grass and trees. Seasons defined by the color of leaves.”
In this song, he talks about growing older but speaks about what most people view as negative things as something he cherishes, and it’s beautiful poetry.
Into the Fire – Melrose EP 2015
“If only I could know the truth in love, then I would be so bold.”
Healing happens here.
Bangor Town – The Wild Swan 2016
“I sit down by the water and I glory at my host. Let the rivers roll over like lovers, oh brothers and sisters and I … Good lord, you know we need it most. Our minds are tethered but our hearts are wild.”
When I feel nervous or anxious or sad, I play this song. It’s another one that reminds me just to be in this moment. Let the rivers roll over. Like let it be, right now. Sometimes, that’s all you can do. When he says our minds are tied down, but our hearts keep going … I love him for putting this into words.
Burden – The Wild Swan 2016
This video shows “She Burns” – the title song for this post – and “Burden” live. “No matter how much you’re hurting right now, you know that everything will change in time.”
That’s it. That’s all you need to hear. I promise.
The Wild Swans On The Lake – The Wild Swan 2016
“For now, the air is calm and cool.” Just a really beautiful traditional sounding folk song. I love that he says, “For now.”
His way of making the present moment so important is incredible.
FOY VANCE SONGS FOR IF YOU LOVE BLUES AND WANNA ROCK OUT
Closed Hand, Full of Friends – Joy of Nothing 2013
“The scenery’s changing and it warms my soul.”
That’s all I’m quoting because you gotta just hear the rest of it. It’s so so good.
Be With Me – Hope 2007
“Her hair was copper and her beauty bold, and it warmed me to my soul. Her eyes were green, brown, orange, and gold.”
Don’t you love that imagery?
Noam Chomsky Is A Soft Revolution – The Wild Swan 2016
“If you’re quiet and sick of institution …” your recommended playlist is the entirety of this song. Sometimes on drives, I blast this really loud in my car.
* * *
If some cruel soul ever comes up to me and asks what my favorite song is and forces me to choose between the millions of glorious songs out there, then I actually do have an answer, and that answer is “Guiding Light” by Foy Vance off Joy of Nothing. This song means the world to me. I would lay down on my bedroom floor, close my eyes, and just listen to it. It really tells my mind to shut up. It tells me to persevere. It tells me I’m not broken beyond repair. It tells me that I’m not alone, and when things are really dark, it reminds me that there’s a light that exists out there and sometimes that reminder is all you need.
Well the night is still, and I have not yet lost my will.
Oh and I will keep on moving ’till I find my way home.
I love it. I love him. I really look up to him. He has been my explosion of hope at all the times when I felt lost and needed it. Every time, it counted. It’s not an exaggeration for me to say I truly feel like Foy Vance’s music has saved my life. I hope you love his words as much as I do. Thank you so much for being here.
She Burns by Foy Vance 2016