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  • Kai Straw

Thoughts about my song 'Indiana'

Like any good story, my album made around the world will start from home.  Though the song’s called ‘Indiana’, it was made in San Francisco; the girl who inspired it was born in Indiana.  The polaroid I’m using for the cover was taken in my apartment here in the city.  To me, this one’s a love song – all my break-up songs are.

 

The older you get, the more likely each step you take into a new relationship will be coupled with fear. “Ah, I’ve been here before,” we think, and with the first kiss comes the sound of the rattlesnake, and in the quiet moments when you first lay with them the sting of an old poison can come in and remind you that a darkness you once endured started in a moment similar.

 

Then comes the vulnerability – we say, here, this is where my skin was once soft and new, and now look at how my burns have healed, and look at these, here, those that haven’t.  You hope they run their fingers across the contours of those wounds, old and new, and you hope in the swirls and shapes our burns have made they’ll see something other than proof you don’t deserve to be loved.

 

I can see you, they reply.  I’ve run my thumb across the fractures you’re ashamed to show.  And like the needle to a vinyl’s grooves, when I run my thumb across them I can hear your sweet song.  I haven’t fallen for you because your song is perfect; I have fallen for you because in the ways you are imperfect I have found the same shapes of the pieces I have lost, or in what you perceive as your sour notes, my own have fit between them to draw our melody.

 

Even after all that, though, life can ultimately loosen the knots you tie together.  The closeness you both earned can evaporate.  What you thought was, no longer is.  What you thought could be, couldn’t.  An end comes, and with that, it can feel like – what was all this for?

 

If you’re quiet enough to hear it – if you let go of the bitterness and you stop looking down the road that wasn’t – you can still hear their melody; it sings in quiet harmony with yours, along with the rest of those who’ve played a part in your composition.  On the canvas that holds your heart you can see what vibrancies they added.  Across your meadow you can see the small mounds of soil that hide the seeds they planted.  And when time draws those seeds to sprout you can see the flowers that would have never bloomed.

 

In this way, regardless of the outcome, to allow yourself to love is a gift that goes both ways.  I am me, I am the pieces that others were brave enough to give, and I am the notes I’ve been still enough to hear.  I wrote this song because I can hear her notes in my chords, and because of that – the experience deserves to be encased in amber in the only way I know how.

 

When I wrote this song, I did not hear the sound of the rattlesnake; I felt peace – like what a beautiful thing that was, and how lush a thing this sadness is, and what a gift it is to risk this kind of nakedness.

 

Kai Straw

About the song ‘Indiana’

Made in San Francisco, 2023

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