Lyrical inspiration, explanation behind the songs of “How I Wish” 

 

Honey

This song grew out of an assignment my class was given during a songwriting workshop at Jazz Camp West, a music camp I attended for two consecutive summers in high school. Each student in the class was tasked with writing a love song, but with a twist: “Write a love song to yourselves,” the teacher told us. It was a fascinating concept to me. A love song from the perspective of someone in love with you. For me, this song turned into an exercise in self love. I played with two different perspectives in my lyrics to capture the admiration of one individual and the internal insecurities of the other. I wanted to show that even though someone may be deeply and intensely loved by another, that love does not always align with how we view ourselves. Despite this conflict, I believe that feeling loved by someone else is often what sparks the realization that we must love ourselves.

How I Wish

This song is a perfect example of me channeling my emotions through writing. This song was birthed out of an argument that I got into with my father about something benign and unimportant - I honestly cannot remember what we were fighting about at the time, but I remember feeling so frustrated and wishing that I could acquiesce my view and admit that I was wrong, but I was unable to, because I knew and felt in my heart that I was right. The verse lyrics of this song were mostly derived from this initial interaction, but with the chorus, I wanted to morph the song into something that would be more relatable to others and could apply to various other situations, possibly even romantic ones. I tried to put myself in the shoes of a person who has just realized their significant other has cheated on them, a painful truth that the protagonist of the song comes to realize as they internally process their conflicting feelings towards the person who has wronged them. 

On & On 

This song is a very personal one to me. As someone who has always lived in a mind that airs towards perfectionism, I have dealt with significant struggles in maintaining a sense of self worth and confidence in the midst of fighting against my highly judgmental brain and lofty unattainable expectations for myself. This song directs its frustration at an unnamed individual who is constantly judging and assessing the first person subject, but the “you” character established is actually just an incarnation of the individual’s internal critical voice. 

Heart Halfway Open

You know when you are kind of into somebody but too scared to admit it because of the fear of being rejected and would rather just not even try than go through that pain? That classic teenage experience is basically this song in a nutshell. So often in my life, I have felt “a little bit in love, just sort of in love,” but not quite deep enough to fully commit. However, in writing this song, I wanted to draw attention and importance to the fact that even this halfway-invested kind of love can feel deeply true and special in its own way; it is a very particular kind of love, a toe in the pool kind of love, that is so unique to many young people, and I wanted to portray that experience. 

 

I’m Not Losing You

Originally entitled “I have tried enough,” I wanted this song to exhibit the frustrations that one experiences when they feel like they have done absolutely everything they can to make a relationship work, but no matter how hard they try and cry and die for a person, nothing seems to be enough. The “I” subject of the song is finally realizing their worth, and in a brave and radical step, decides to cut out the individual who fails to mirror that respect back to them. 

G.I. Lover

This song is loosely based on the story of my grandmother's life. During her first marriage, my grandmother endured countless nights of beatings. It took years, but she eventually divorced him. Then she met Johnny Nash, an American GI who sauntered into the tailor shop where she was working. They fell in love and quickly married, allowing her to obtain a visa. On a crisp spring morning in 1978, she made her way to Portland, my five-year-old mother on her arm with hopes for a better life in her heart. Her story has always been incredibly moving to me, and thinking about her one day, I was inspired to write this song. I wanted to capture the complexity and challenge of inter-racial relationships, especially during the 1970s.

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