Welcome to another weekly addition of Music Makes Me. Last week I talked about Russian band Little Big. This week I’m moving closer to home, to the north into Canada. I have been a Sarah McLachlan fan since I first heard her sing, but hadn’t played any of her music in awhile. That is until I read an article recently that talked about her hit song ‘Angel’. But before I get into the song that brought me back, let me give you a little taste of who McLachlan is in the music business.
McLachlan released her first album ‘Touch’ over 30 years ago in 1987. This album started her career on an upward trajectory when it received praise from both listeners and the music world. This album sparked her first tour, opening for the band The Grapes of Wrath. Since that first album, she has released 8 more studio albums. And her music has not flown under the radar as with some other artists.
McLachlan has received nine Juno Awards (a Canadian music award) after being nominated for 26 of them. She has won Female Vocalist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year for “Building a Mystery” and Album of the Year for her album “Surfacing”. She has also won an International Achievement Award, Pop Album of the Year for “Afterglow”, and three more Songwriter of the Year awards. But her success wasn’t just in Canada.
In the US, McLachlan won three Grammy Awards for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance twice and Best Pop Instrumental Performance. One of her songs, “Building a Mystery” came in 91st on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s. Not only has her awards been about her music, but she has also been recognized for what she has done for others.
McLachlan was awarded the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Visionary Award in recognition of her efforts in starting the Lilith Fair in 1996. This was started out of her frustration with how women were treated in the music industry. Not only was this to help spotlight these issues, but it also raised over 7 million dollars for charity. Sadly due to poor ticket sales the final year, the tour was discontinued. As you can see McLachlan has become a well-known name not just in the music world. But back to the reason for this week’s article.
In my Facebook group Music Makes Me, I featured a song on the anniversary of the tragic death of Smashing Pumpkin‘s keyboard player Jonathan Melvoin. He died due to a heroin overdose while on tour in 1996. The following year, McLachlan released the album “Surfacing” which “Angel” appeared. McLachlan says she wrote this song in about three hours after reading some articles in Rolling Stone about musicians, like Melvoin, who turned to heroin to deal with the demands of life in the music world. In the words of McLachlan, “I’ve been in that place where you’ve messed up and you’re so lost that you don’t know who you are anymore, and you’re miserable, and here’s this escape route. I’ve never done heroin, but I’ve done plenty of other things to escape”. She continued on to say that the song is about “trying not to take responsibility for other people’s problems and trying to love yourself at the same time”.
The song itself is a beautiful composition of mostly McLachlan’s vocals and piano. I “knew” the lyrics but honestly never really thought about them. After researching the story further, I went back and studied her song not as a casual listener, but as one who wanted to dive deep inside the story told by the lyrics. The tragedy of the lyrics like “There’s always some reason to feel not good enough” transcends the music industry. This seems to be a too common mindset of many people across all races, ages, sexes, economic statuses and walks of life today. And unfortunately quite often resulting in depression, substance abuse or more tragically loss of life due to things like suicide and drug overdoses. I wish I could wind up this story with the solution to this social pandemic, but I can’t. I feel that we can only try to support those in our circle of influence, be it friends, family or coworkers.
So today, I hope that you not only check out McLachlan’s music, but more importantly reach out to someone you care about and check to see how they are doing. And if you are a person who is struggling, especially with suicidal thoughts, there are lots of resources out there that are built to help you through this time in your life. You are never alone and and you are always good enough! As always, feel free to reach out to me to tell me an artist or song you love. But more importantly, if you feel you have nowhere else to turn, I respond to all emails and can try to point you to someone who can help.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s spotlight on singer Sarah McLachlan. Until next week, if you’re a music lover, you can hear, see or learn about new music every day on my Facebook group, Spotify playlist or YouTube playlist. And as always, feel free to reach out and let me know about your favorite new musical discovery.