“This song was going to be written, I had no control over it”.
This is one of the comments Annalise Emerick makes as we discuss her song, “This Love Won’t Break Your Heart”, which is the track featured on her upcoming music video release. Prepping for the video debut, I wanted to chat with Emerick about the artistic decisions regarding the song and video, the process, and what the song means to her.
The video centers around New Year’s, and the song integrates a familiar theme from the holiday. I wondered…is it tough to write a holiday type song? How does one make it accessible to all times of year but also heavy enough for the holiday cheer? My only experience in the field of holiday songwriting was an extra credit assignment in my high school honors chemistry class, and it was pretty much the Periodic Table of Elements set to Carol of the Bells. But you bet I remembered my Polonium and Caesium that holiday season.
Emerick says, “I’m not sure if it was hard to write a holiday song, because its not a Christmas song and Christmas songs seem…” she pauses and goes on about how many holiday songs have the storyteller reminiscing about being somewhere else, or with someone else.
“It didn’t seem like I was writing a holiday song. It seemed like I was writing a song that celebrated this one night of the year where a bunch of my best friends get together and love each other and…have a good time. And so I think I didn’t really think about it that way. I definitely have a hard time playing it when it’s in the summer months…after January first, it’s harder to put it in a set because it’s so specific to New Year’s Eve time. But from right now/October on…the shows I have been playing it at seem to be really well receiving of the song. So it’s kind of hard (…) but I did try and keep it somewhat universal in that it uses “Auld Lang Syne” but it doesn’t overstate that it’s New Year’s Eve. I don’t know, maybe it does, maybe it’s completely New Year’s Eve and no one can hear it any other way and that’s fine. That’s what it’s for. But really it’s just about that one night of the year when everyone gets together. I hope that some group of friends or some other families can relate to it and just realize that people that you spend whatever night of the year it is…those are the people who will never hurt you, never break your heart, that love is pure and that’s what the song is really really about. Celebrating friendships and having a great time together and it happens to be on New Year’s Eve for me so I wrote it about that.”
Who created the concept for the video? How does she feel it captured the mood?
She explains, “I knew I wanted to work with Yeah Yeah Creative. They’re based in Nashville and they’ve done a lot of videos for some of my friends…I went to them and we ran through one other concept that I felt was just a little too big for the song and I [suggested] ‘let’s just tone it down a bit and get really pure'”. She goes on, adding, “I don’t want it to be some big metaphor music video. I want it to be normal people, lots of beer and taking shots and you know, fireworks…things like that that are just normal. I just want it to be really relatable, I don’t want it to look too expensive or too sexy. A lot of videos…you’re like, ‘that would never happen, why is she walking along the beach, nobody does that in the middle of winter’, really unrealistic. So I wanted it to be…as real life as possible. I think, as far as capturing the mood of the video, the video is just spot on. The guys knew what I was talking about when I was explaining the party to them and they just really ran with that. They made it really warm and cozy and I just think it looks exactly how I wanted it.”
At this point I wanted to bring something up that most, if not all, songwriters dream of. It looks like some people have covered the song! How did she find out about these covers? How does it feel?
You can tell Emerick is grateful and thrilled. “Yeah! So I guess some people have been finding my song and covering it. And it’s like-whoa! One of my friends [said} ‘you’re famous’ and I said no, that’s silly…but it’s so…it’s really special.” She smiles. “I feel that, as an artist, and other artists can relate to this…when you find a cover of a song you write, you’re just..it’s like a new place that you see yourself. And it’s really exciting because it means that your music really is getting to the people. It is getting out there, people are finding it.” She adds that it reinforces that all the hard work she had been doing, the mail outs and Facebook and Twitter, has been working. “That’s crazy, I am so happy,” she goes on. “I found that cover of ‘This Love Won’t Break Your Heart’ when I uploaded the music video, unlisted, on Youtube, so we could send it out to press, and that one came up because it had the same title.” She explains that it had only been posted a week before and she watched it right away and wrote back to user, telling them thank you. “I mean, that’s just really special. That’s awesome. I hope that they play it at their New Year’s Eve party and have a great time…that’s all I really want.”
Also…how did the idea for this song come up? Did she intend for it to conjure up a New Year’s Eve story?
“I was working on the album, for Starry Eyed, and I was driving on my way home from work and I just got the idea. I was literally driving up my street to my apartment, so I got the idea…I was like, ‘please don’t forget this Annalise, please don’t forget this’, and I ran into my house, got my guitar, figured out the chords for “Auld Lang Syne”, and just started writing it. And it was just one of those things where it just kinda comes out. I knew, as soon as I got the idea, that this song was going to be my favorite song I’ve ever written, and I knew that it was going to mean the most to me.” She explains wanting the song to honor her friends and memories, and how she called her friend, John Flanagan, who she tends to write with. He lives in Los Angeles. “We got on Skype and I told him the idea”. She also brought in a friend who is a writer and consulted her for key words and ideas for lyrics. She had a few more Skype dates with Flanagan for the song. “This song was going to be written, I had no control over it”. She adds, “It was totally spur of the moment, totally fell in my lap, and that doesn’t always hapen to me”, she recalls, calling it a gift from the universe.
Being on the topic, and this may seem obvious, but why did she include those bars of “Auld Lang Syne”?
“I included the bars of “Auld Lang Syne” because I really wanted it to come back to the fact that it is New Year’s Eve. It’s a new beginning. That special time after Christmas and before the New Year, when everyone’s home…” She also adds that some songwriters incorporate traditional songs into their work for personal impact or memories, such as a friend whose mother used to sing her “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, which was then incorporated into her friend’s song about her mother. Emerick had been thinking about that when the idea came to her in her car. “So, it was kind of a no brainer…it’s a really beautiful and historic song.” She looked deep into the history of the song upon writing it, and was happy to include it in her own work.
And shooting in Nashville…?
“We shot the video in Nashville. I knew I wanted to go back there to do it because I really trusted the Yeah Yeah Creative team and had seen their work before.” Emerick adds that she loves going back to Nashville and tries to keep her presence known there. “It’s an amazing town, it just wasn’t working for me to live there anymore, but I still go back and visit. I felt that was going to be the best option for me. I feel Nashville is really on trend with music videos, music, fashion…everything like that is just really happening.”
What does she hope people can take away from the video?
“I just want people to feel moved and inspired by friendship and love. I know that sounds really silly but I just want people to feel like I do when I have that night of fun and games and friendship and love. I want people to hear that and seek it for themselves and find those people. Find their people that make them really happy. And also drive them crazy maybe, but those are your people. It could be your family or friends from college or whatever it is. I just want them to feel like it’s all going to be okay and you have a fresh start. You have this one sacred night to be together and just make the most of your friendships and take care of the people you love and remind them that once a year…for us it’s a once a year reminder that we have each other. That love will never hurt you.”
Hence the title of the track “This Love Won’t Break Your Heart”?
Directed and produced by Tyler Evans and David Lavender, the video was shot in Nashville, TN and is being pre-released to the press on November 14th, with an exclusive premiere via American Songwriter on November 28th, just in time for the holiday season. (via press release).
Check out Annalise Emerick’s music at any of these upcoming shows or appearances!
12/1/12 – Shelburne Falls, MA – Mocha Maya’s – 7:00pm
12/4/12 – Marshfied, MA – Almost Famous 95.9 WATD – 8:00pm
12/6/12 – Jamaica Plain, MA – City Feed – 6:00pm
12/8/12 – Boston, MA – City Wide Black Out Radio Show – 9:00pm
4/12/13 – Sunapee, NH – Sunapee Community Coffee House – 7:00pm
5/11/13 – Saugerties, NY – The John Street Jam – 7:30pm
You can now watch the video here: