Song Spotlight 4

“Giving Up” by Ingrid Michaelson.

Ingrid Michaelson is a singer and songwriter from New York. This song was released on her third album, Be OK, which was released in 2008. Her bigger hits include, “The Way I Am,” and, “You and I.”

I chose this song because since the first day I heard it, I knew it would never stop being a good song. It is very spare. It’s just her and a guitar and, on occasion, a backup vocal of herself (which I guess makes it just her and a guitar). The pace is steady and the melodic and chord progressions are simple.

The melody is so, so sweet. She doesn’t do a lot in terms of making the music dynamic, which makes it feel a lot more like a confession or a small monologue rather than a song.

The writing is absolutely phenomenal. Absolutely. Phenomenal. I want to incorporate all the great lines into this post, but at some point I’d just be posting all the lyrics to the song. Instead, I’ll use the lines that made me realize I loved this song when I heard them.

“I am giving up on greener grasses.” Michaelson says this song is the good kind of giving up, which really doesn’t get enough credit for all the insanity its prevented since the beginning of cognitive awareness. This line is such a succinct way of saying, among other things, that sometimes the grass is greener, but we don’t always (or ever) need greener grass. Sometimes we just need grass. Or sometimes we need rocks or gravel or tanbark or concrete. It says that sometimes maybe you actually do want greener grass, but, more often than not, you can miss out on your own good lawn while yearning for someone else’s. It says that comparison won’t keep her from realizing what she has. It says you have to be realistic, which may sound negative, but a good, real thing is much, much better than a better, imagined thing.

“What if your eyes close before mine?” Talking about the death of your partner to your partner is, I imagine, a bit surreal for a younger person. It opens up a lot of little used avenues of thinking. But I like it. Thinking about how I’d feel if / when my partner dies makes me more aware of how I feel about them now. Obviously, things can change over time, but that’s beside the point. I imagine that if / when I choose to marry a woman, I’d like not to feel more than just (all forms of) sad after her death. I’d love to feel love and warmth because I had her, even if it wasn’t always. And I’d love to feel faith in the idea that people are more than just humans on a planet, that they can create a sort of magic.

Thanks for the tune, Ingrid Michaelson.


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