She Used To Be Mine


There are times when I think that Sara has a direct window into my soul.

She Used to Be Mine is her newest song off her upcoming album What’s Inside: Songs From Waitress, and is the instant signature track from the musical score that she’s written for the stage production titled, Waitress. It’s a stage adaptation of the 2007 movie that bears the same name starring Keri Russell. Waitress tells the story of Jenna, a woman who works at a diner, is stuck in a stifling, abusive marriage, and yearns for the better life that she dreamed about when she was younger. Then she learns she’s pregnant. In this song Jenna reflects on her current situation. Reality sets in. She is broken. Defeated. She is at a crossroads. She finds herself in a position in life that she didn’t expect, ask for or want. Within the lyrics she is coming to terms with the dreams and qualities that she feels that she has lost about herself. Her introspection is something we can all relate to. Life rarely works out the way we expect. Especially when planned as bright eyed kids with our entire lives ahead of us. Personally I relate to these words an uncomfortable amount. It’s a reoccurring pattern I’m finding with most of Sara’s music.

In the first verse Sara is articulating what most of us can relate to. That life has not worked out as hoped. The chorus is sung as if she is singing back to her former self that she’s trying to desperately remember. It’s a moment similar to a someone trying to breakthrough the syndrome of amnesia. As if reflecting back on the past will somehow spark the memories she needs to change the present. The second verse becomes a bit more poignant and her tone changes as the subject matter becomes more adult. The internal fight between former self with dreams, and current self with realities is combative, and in the end, she returns to the chorus worn out and beaten. Ready for the reality and fears brought on by the leads impending unexpected motherhood. What I love the most about this song is how much control that Sara demonstrates in her voice. She never over-sings and seems to know just how much to push the volume to convey raw, authentic, gut wrenching emotion. It breaks your heart in a way that is true Musical Morphine. Sara is a master storyteller with her lyrics and her voice is the picture book that keeps us turning the page. Waitress opened on August 2nd in Massachusetts at the American Repertory Theater and ran until September 27th. The reviews were positive as expected. I can’t wait to see Waitress when it finally makes its way to Broadway.


Book by Jessie Nelson
Music and Lyrics by Sara Bareilles
Based upon the motion picture written by Adrienne Shelly
Choreographed by Chase Brock
Directed by Diane Paulus

Official Synopsis:
Jenna, played by Tony Award winner Jessie Mueller (Beautiful), a waitress and expert pie maker, is stuck in a small town and a loveless marriage. When a baking contest in a nearby county offers her a chance at escape, Jenna must choose between her commitments and her dreams. Her customers, co-workers, and the town’s handsome new doctor all offer her conflicting recipes for happiness—but Jenna ultimately has to decide for herself. This poignant and uplifting new musical celebrates friendship, motherhood, and the courage it takes to pluck a long abandoned dream off the shelf. Featuring music and lyrics by Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles (“Brave,” “Love Song”) and directed by Diane Paulus (Pippin, Finding Neverland).

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Sarah’s Joni Mitchell cover of River is really splendid. This is a song of escape. It’s somber. And brutally honest. Sara’s version was recorded live, however I’m not sure where. If you know, please let me know in the comment section below.

To understand the lyrics I think it’s best to recognize that Joni Mitchell is Canadian. I think it’s safe to assume that she has wonderful holiday memories of skating on a river or pond in the cold Canadian air. Her current life in L.A. while nice, has to be weird come holiday time. Joni associates the holiday with snowmen, cold temperatures, boots, jackets and mittens. In L.A., or “The Land of Make Believe”, they have to fabricate the holiday.

River realizes the duality of the holiday season. On one side you have family, joy, friendship, love, warmth and a reason to celebrate. On the other side you have a those dealing with mounting money problems, perhaps the first holiday since their Mother passed, or in this case a broken love. It’s in this broken love where Joni Mitchell crafts honest lyrics where the person realizes they are the root of the relationships demise. That they’re the reason why they left. This realization is the worst, and magnified ten fold at the holiday’s.

So a river to skate away on seems just the thing to do, if you want to disappear.

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Artists have many reasons why they cover other artists music.  At their core they are still fans. Music resonates with them just like the average teenage girl, college kid or mother of two. They happen to have a platform when they can pay tribute, if they so choose, to specific songs they connect with. Yellow is song originally written and performed by the band Coldplay for their 2000 release Parachutes. Sara covered the song while playing at the PC Richards Theater in Tribeca, NYC on Jan 27th, 2011. During the songs presell she states that she got the Coldplay album while in a Study Abroad Program in Italy and that Yellow is one of her “all time favorite songs.” It’s a song that got her through some dark times. Her live version recorded in 2011 is just her and the piano, and her strong connection with Yellow translates as she sings. The YouTube link from the user itsalluncharted is below.

That premise of the healing power of music is the cornerstone of Musical Morphine. This healing power enters the body through the fingertips, and travels up the tendons like a superhighway to the brain. While it’s on its way, the music seeps into the bone marrow… depositing little hits of musical morphine along the way allowing the listener to survive for another day.

Chris Martin, the front man for the band Coldplay revealed on the Howard Stern show that the lyric “yellow” has no meaning and that it’s was only meant to be a place holder for another lyric. But nothing worked quite like Yellow and so it stuck. I think, like the color, it’s brilliant. Yellow takes on the persona of an everything word. A fill in the blank, in the moment Smurfy kind of word. It can be a replacement for love, comfort, happiness, pain, sadness, joy. As a result we are a part of the song, forming our own lyrics like a choose your own adventure book and joining along in the musical process. For me Yellow in the lyrics is the word that represents the unconditional love one person feels for someone else. Be it a spouse, child, parent or lost soulmate or friend. There are certainly a few people in my life that I’d bleed myself dry.

What does Yellow mean for you?

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Beautiful Girl


This song is very hard to find. It’s not on any studio album, and while it’s tied to the EP Once Upon Another Time, it’s not on the EP. Beautiful Girl was only released as a 7″ vinyl only B-Side to Stay, the first single on the EP Once Upon Another Time, on Record Store Day in 2012.

Beautiful Girl is one of the many songs written by Sara that are autobiographical. She has mentioned in concerts that she wrote this song as an adult to her younger 13 year old self. It’s a beautiful song with lyrics that will resonate with any young teenage girl or boy that battles with peer pressure, bullies at school, boys or girls with raging hormones and one’s struggle to fit in amidst puberty and the constant barrage of what’s deemed pretty by model clad magazine covers and celebrities in Hollywood.

Beautiful Girl is also one of the many songs written by Sara that promotes finding strength within yourself and not allowing outside pressure to dictate how you should live your life. This is a song that every 13 year-old girl should listen too. I’ve never met Sara, nor do I ever expect to have the opportunity, but if I did I would thank her. I would thank her for her courage to share such a personal story for the benefit of others, and in this case for all the teenage girls that will listen to her song and be moved. My own daughter included.

Only Shadows

Sara’s an extraordinary lyricist. She doesn’t just write songs, she tells well-crafted miniature stories with profound lasting effect. Perfect example is the song Only Shadows.

Currently not on any studio album, the song was broadcast live on September 10, 2012 over the online concert in order to raise money for the organization called Playing For Change. On this broadcast Sara states that she was inspired to write this song while on a jog in Brooklyn, NY. After her run she sat down at the piano that was inside her apartment and began to write.

When I hear this song I get the sense it’s about someone who just can’t let go of a loved one who is about to move on from this world. Perhaps a parent, aunt or friend, child or spouse. In any case, I think Sara’s lyrics are pen to paper what most people are thinking when faced with the reality that they may only have hours, moments or breaths left with a loved one. In those last moments of their suffering or pain, she’s selfishly hoping for more time. She’s not ready to let go. Even though she knows it’s inevitable and certainly for the best.

Give me one more night then I’m ready
To let go, to know we are only shadows.

Babe, I’m so sorry to ask
I’m ashamed but tonight I just can’t give you up
I shackled myself to the past and my will has gone missing
Let’s call our shadow selves out for the evening
And watch them remember our love
Tomorrow will come and I know they’ll be leaving
That our time is up

Sara’s character understands this family member has suffered enough, but she’s not ready to say goodbye. She want’s more time before that loved one rises, and becomes “Only Shadows”, leaving her with the harsh reality that she must continue on without them. It’s a poetic and painful sentiment that all of us will have to identify with one day if we are fortunate enough to live a long a prosperous life.

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