The Song #9 by Julie Arsenault

My cousin Jude was the first person who thought I could sing. I must have been eight or nine years old when I learned all the words to “You Were Meant For Me” by Jewel, and Jude had me sing it for my entire family in shifts. For my parents, then my aunts and uncles, my brother and the rest of my cousins, her friends. Then, she made me a cassette tape recording from one of her cds (90’s pirating). It was Tidal by Fiona Apple. She played it for me and asked if I thought I could sing like her and if I could learn a few of her songs and sing them for her. Being introduced to Fiona Apple just as I was entering adolescence was monumental for me, musically.]

When dial-up internet and Napster came around a few years later, I would spend hours in front of the computer downloading every Fiona Apple song I could find. One of them being her cover of “Across the Universe” by The Beatles. I have to admit it would be several years before I even listened to The Beatles version, because Fiona’s was all I needed. It was perfect. Jon Brion is my favourite producer and score composer to this day. I am also a very big Beatles fan (if you haven’t already, I would check them out) so I appreciate the song writing. The original version is beautiful, but something about her cover – the percussion and the, I don’t know if it’s a chamberlain or a wurlitzer? – the production of the song just sets off fireworks in my heart and shoots sparks through my bones. Her voice soothes my soul!
I have Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder which is a medical term for “I’m extremely sensitive, in every way, physically, mentally, and emotionally, at all times”, which can often make day to day life difficult. I can’t tell you how many days I would walk home from a bad day at work with this song in my ears, and tears streaming down my face. Suddenly, I’m able to feel the heat from the sun on my cheeks, and I’m marvelling at the way the wind moves the branches on the trees that line the sidewalk, and my boots get a little lighter with every step that I take, as this song plays. It makes me feel like myself when my shifting moods make me unrecognizable. It feels miraculous that music can do that, but it makes sense.
I wouldn’t say this song has changed my life, but it gives me life, and makes me grateful for my life. When the hormones in my body are amplifying all of the terrible things that I’m feeling, and the horrible things happening in the world around me, I hear this song and beauty is everywhere.

Julie Arsenault