Adele on making songs that make us cry
I remember the first time I heard Adele’s voice. I was alone (of course) in my apartment one night (of course) and, while the city went about its business, I – tearful, bottom lip all atremble – spooned very large portions of cookie dough ice cream into my mouth, sipping a jumbo lime slurpee between mouthfuls.
My boyfriend had dumped me for for my sister AND my best friend (revealing at the same time their intention to form a polyamorous union and move to a small village off the coast of Costa Rica). I sat devastated on my cheap but colourful IKEA rug and longed for simpler, happier times.
Honestly, I can’t remember the first time I heard any song of any artist.
But what I do know is every time I hear an Adele song, I get messy. You know, mentally. I could be happy, stable, satisfied, and the moment her voice belts out, I’m suddenly forlorn, vulnerable and filled with longing.
Pathos is the name given to aspects of art, music or literature that evoke strong feelings of kindly sorrow, compassion or empathy. And Adele accredits some of the success of her songs to that fact that they penetrate our veil of “okayness”.
In a recent interview with Time, Adele says people respond to her songs because “I’m not shy or embarrassed to be falling apart.” She adds:
“Everyone falls apart, I think. A lot of people try to be brave and not shed a tear. Sometimes when you know someone else feels as s— as you do, or approaches things in a certain way just like you do, it makes you feel better about yourself. Even though my music is melancholy, there’s also joy in that. I hope I do bring joy to people’s lives, and not just sadness, but I think there’s there’s a comfort in it.”
Henri Matisse once famously said, “Creativity takes courage”, and I think Adele stands as an example of this. Through her songs, often written about deeply personal life experiences, she reveals emotions and feelings that she – and indeed all of us – often work hard to cloak.
So, if you want to make songs, pictures, stories or dances that resonate, why not start with exploring your own fears, vulnerabilities and experiences of “falling apart”?
Worked for Adele.
Now. Where’s that ice-cream?