“‘On Hold’ was written as a thank you for the warmth of the world when I was at my lowest, and I wanted the video that accompanied it to be a raw representation of this gratitude. While I realise that roller-skating through central London giving flowers to strangers isn’t particularly cool, random acts of kindness are – ultimately, being nice is underrated. This video is the definition of DIY – it was filmed by a mate of mine who followed me through the city on a skateboard and I edited it all myself, having never done anything of the kind before. It makes me smile to watch, and dorky as it is, I feel this video communicates a joy that often goes untold.”
It’s a beautiful thing when a songwriter chooses and places a word so perfectly that its shape becomes physical sensation in the mind of the listener.
In Tu Canción (Your Song) you don’t need to know what the word ‘siento‘ (si-yén-to) means. Its sound alone (about 35 seconds in) will make your heart dance. The sliding ‘s‘, the elastic ‘y‘ sound, the soft landing of the ‘n’ and the final, neat step sound of the ‘to‘: a collection of sounds perfectly placed to swing you into a romantic waltz. Thank heavens for Spanish Irregular Verbs:
When you sing in English, small words offer big opportunities. They can stretch and dance in song. Give them room; pay them attention. Be ready for Russian doll words: tiny words that appear then reappear, nestled inside bigger, emotion-carrying words. Listen to tiny ‘in‘, working alone and within:
When you read or imagine a word, you create a physical shape and a ‘feeling’ inside your mind. The form adapts and flows. Heart holds one shape in the mind of a surgeon when she’s at work in the operating theatre and quite another when she’s at home, reading a precious love letter.
All singing is choice. Choice carves sound. Watch Birdy singing Bon Iver’s Skinny Love and you’ll see her curving her lips inwards and letting them rest together on the m as she sings my, my, my, my, my. Her pause on the round body of the m weighs down the flyaway y. It adds a layer of resigned melancholy to the word.
It’s a choice. Birdy doesn’t round her lips in the same way when she sings the other words that begin with m in Skinny Love: moment and morning. Why pause on the m of my but not the m of morning?