By Laura Byrd
I have been obsessed lately with the idea of “home” being used in new songs as a music industry trend. Although I am seeing this trending theme applied in songs by many new and up and coming artists, it truly is a timeless theme for musicians to utilize as a universally understood subject. Even Johnny Cash wrote a song about his home state, “My Old Kentucky Home,” but the first song I remember that applied this theme pricked my ears and made my eyes swell with tears: the Christmas song “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” I distinctly remember singing it in my high school’s chamber choir during the Holiday Concert, and at the words “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams” my voice hitched. How could someone not be at his or her home on Christmas? It astounded and shocked me! I imagined a sad and lonely businessman with his briefcase in tow desperately trying to get back home to his family for Christmas.
Sadly, the truth is that many musicians are not home very often. To be a successful musician, touring has to be a priority and constant in your life. The artists that only perform in their area never “make it big” unless they expand their territory. Since the age of the internet, with song and video sharing sites such as youtube, vimeo, spotify, and reverbnation, we can share and make fans somewhat easily. Those same fans however, want to be engaged in your music and your life. Without touring, you are lessening your chances of making new fans in these towns, selling merchandise that could make new fans by proxy, and documenting your crazy adventures on your blog and Instagram.
One of the most famous songs I think of that uses the imagery of a musician yearning to be home is Blake Shelton’s 2008 hit “Home.” In this song, he speaks of the sadness and longing he feels when he is not with his “other.” The lyrics state,
Another summer day has come and gone away
In Paris and Rome but I wanna go home
Maybe surrounded by a million people
I still feel all alone, I wanna go home…
And I feel just like I’m living someone else’s life
Its like I just stepped outside
When everything was going right
And I know just why you could not come along with me
This was not your dream but you always believed in me…
I’ll be home tonight, I’m coming back home.
Being without your “better half” because your career requires is a huge problem in many relationships, especially musicians! I know from personal experience, as I did not go on tour with J.R. while I had a full-time job (only happened once if that is enough said). I was so miserable; it was the longest two weeks of my life, even with Skype! For this reason, I now travel with him, and it has actually strengthened our relationship tremendously. I have a feeling though that many musicians aren’t as lucky, as Shelton sings, “I know why you could not come along with me, this was not your dream,” For many couples, chasing their own separate dreams is more important than having a team goal. The idea of home for a musician is very enticing, as it must feel like they don’t have a place, space, or person to anchor them during their chaotic, fast-paced lives. Even though they are surrounded by people, they “still feel alone.” In the last few months, I have noticed this idea of home trending in the lyrics of several albums released in between 2012 and 2014. The first time I noticed it was in the hit song by Phillip Phillips, “Home.”
His song, which has now appeared in the Olympics, countless movies, and commercials, speaks of a relationship within this life, [to] “know you’re not alone, cause I’m gonna make this place your home.” The single debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 , soon hit No. 1 on 11 separate Billboard charts, and sold over five million copies in the U.S by 2014. According to the director, the song’s theme was to “give a sense of journey, both for the viewer and the star”, and “the idea of feeling home, at peace, even when you can’t actually be home.”
Pop albums released in 2014 took this idea and ran with it. Ingrid Michaelson’s “Lights Out” released April 14th, 2014, and “equaled the career highs of 2012’s “Human Again,” debuting at No. 1 on the Top Independent Albums chart, No. 2 on Top Rock Albums and No. 5 on the Billboard 200.” The first song is “Home,” an up-tempo indie-pop opener in which she vivaciously proclaims that this place is her home, where she feels safe and loved. Many of the songs on this album are from a dark place. At the time she was writing, her parents were both ill, and she had nerve damage, which put her out for several months. This whimsical song seems to convey that Michaelson knows where she can go when she is down and out.
This is my home,
This is my home.
Where I go when I’ve got nowhere else to go
This is my home,
This is my home.
Where I go when I don’t know where else to go
I know everything about this place, it wears your face
Even when my body blows away, my soul will stay.
In a slightly different vein, another pop artist, Ed Sheeran with his 2014 release of “Multiply” uses the song “Don’t” to “detail a relationship that deteriorates due to touring and mistrust.” This Jason Mraz-y style rap song conveys the sadness in a musician’s life and relationships while being away from home, a place you could “put on a film with you and sit on the couch.”
But me and her we make money the same way
Four cities, two planes the same day
Those shows have never been what it’s about
But maybe we’ll go together and just figure it out
I’d rather put on a film with you and sit on the couch
But we should get on a plane
Or we’ll be missing it now
Lastly, and my favorite, is A Great Big World’s “Already Home,” which sticks with the theme of two lovers being far away from home, in this instance home being New York.
If only New York wasn’t so far away
I promise the city wont get in our way
When you’re scared and alone,
Just know that I’m already home.
These interpretations of home within a song have been ruminating in my head for months now, which made me ask J.R. if he would write his own song with a “home” theme. I remember him asking me one day, “If home is where the heart is…???” What is next?” I replied, “Then my heart lies in you.” In this phrase, it is not the actual, physical home that is sought after, but the “home” inside the heart of the people they love. As long as they have them, they will always be home. I know that as we travel throughout the U.S. touring, I will long for my home, but I’m not scared. As long as I am with him, I will never be lost. “If home is where the heart is, my heart lies in you.”
J.R., my home is you.
Listen to our NEW SONG!
 www.metrolyrics.com. Songwriters: Foster Gillies, Amy Skylark / Bible, Michael/ Steven / Chang, Alan Pei Jei. Published by Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC. November 11, 2104.
 Gary Trust, (November 16, 2012.) “Weekly Chart Notes: Phillip Phillips find his ‘Home’ at No. 1,” Billboard. November 11, 2014.
 Halperin, Shirley. (2012-08-12). “ ‘American Idol’ Winner Phillip Phillips Premieres Home’ Video” The Hollywood Reporter. August, 3, 2012.
 Graff, Gary. “Ingrid Michaelson Embraces ‘Intellectual Poppiness’ on ‘Lights Out’ Album.” Billboard. May 16, 2014.