Everything is Free: a song about pandemic life

Yesterday was a doozy. As was the day before that. And before that? Absolutely splendid.

Days can turn for no obviously apparent reason, though I can give hormones a starring role alongside our new antagonist pandemic. So when I found myself in bed for a happy hour call at 7, I was startled to find myself motivated to get out of bed by simply hearing a song. 

Sure, I adore Gillian Welch. Still, I couldn’t put my finger on the pulse of the inspiration to move, to listen, to play, to sing. As I first sat down to learn it and adapt it to my limited finger picking repertoire, I started to second guess my instincts. 

  • Everything is free now. I’d be playing her song, making it free. 
  • Try to make a little change at the bars. Our bars are closed and even when they open, I doubt I’ll be visiting anytime soon.
  • Everything I ever done, gotta give it away. Someone hit the big score, they figured it out, that we’re gonna do it anyway, even if it doesn’t pay. Ouch, yeah…
  • Every day I wake up, humming a song; but I don’t need to run around, I’ll just stay home. Stay home, save lives.
  • And sing a little love song, my love and myself. This felt GOOD, comforting. A nice reminder that self love and self care is so critical.
  • If there’s something that you wanna hear, you can sing it yourself. OK, I’ll sing it myself.

On the surface, it spoke to me in the moment, and while I battled the appropriateness of covering it and sharing it (for free), I ultimately found so much reprieve in the doing that I did it. And it motivated me to finish some work I’d been procrastinating; and I fell asleep peacefully, already rested.

When I woke this morning, I decided Wednesday would be a RESET day, a wonderful opportunity to shape my day around calm, acceptance and more productivity than the past couple of days. And then it hit me: Gillian’s song is about that acceptance. Accepting a new way of life and singing yourself a love song to help soothe the struggle in that transition.

‘Cause everything is free now, that’s what I said
No one’s gotta listen to the words in my head.
Someone hit the big score, and I figured it out
And I’m gonna do it anyway, even if it doesn’t pay

Gillian Welch, Everything is Free

Thank you to Gillian and all artists who risk vulnerability to share their stories as inspirations for us all. While I haven’t been able to watch any long form shows or movies, or read long form books, I’ve found so much comfort in music—especially in the past few weeks as our realities continue to shift like ‘ol 49ers panning for gold. Even if I don’t fully understand why any particular song sings to me, they are all helping me accept a new way of living and of being … and continue to push me to practice finding my own voice and sharing my own stories.