Kristen Rae Bowden (Charlottesville, Virginia, USA) is a piano-centric singer songwriter armed with salty-sweet vocals and “an inherent feel for the profound”according to Melissa Clarke, Americana Highways. Her new folk-tinged single ‘Marry Me Once’ is a majestic piano ballad of self-acceptance and personal independence.
“My song ‘Marry Me Once’ is about self-love and empowerment, through the lens of my innermost feelings. It’s an admission, a confession that I’ve finally learned to feel whole, like I’m enough, all on my own. And part of the admission is that I’m afraid of giving up or losing that feeling. Many times in my life I’ve allowed love to pull me away from my goals and ambitions. The whole song is like an intimate letter written to my lover, turning down a marriage proposal. It’s about the joy of really feeling your independence and unapologetically choosing that feeling, and your own path, over codependence.”
What inspired you to write this song?
“In my late teens and early twenties I thought I wanted to get married. My Dad died during that time, and maybe I used the busyness of college to outrun my grief for awhile. When I graduated, I felt lost. Suddenly the direction of my life was all up to me, everything was a question mark, and I wanted one thing I could pin down. It sounded good to just figure out who I was going to love, ‘once and for all’. Basically I was trying to take the hardest easy way out possible. Thank goodness nobody asked me! I would have made a terrible ex-wife!”
“Fast forward ten years, a decade full of living. I grew up. I learned so much about who I am, and I liked her, and then I loved her. In my late twenties the men I dated started talking about marrying me, one after the other. As soon as I was not interested, suddenly they were. I had to laugh.”
“This song is inspired by this turn of the tides, but the song itself is less about marriage, and more about rejoicing in the fact that I’m not looking for people to use as an emotional crutch. It’s also about saying no to being an emotional crutch. I want to love in such a way that we both power ourselves, move on our own, and decide to walk together.”
“I started writing this song years ago in 2016, when its inspiration was currently happening. I was recording my first record ‘Language & Mirrors’ during that time, and I’d sit alone at the grand piano in the dark quiet studio and write for a little bit every day. I loved the melody but I couldn’t seem to get the words right. I abandoned it for a long time, but it never left me. Years later the words came. Sometimes I can’t write about a situation while it’s happening… I only see the trees and not the forest, so to speak.”
Do the lyrics have a special meaning to you?
“They do, yes. As I was writing them I kept seeing this image in my head of some old movie, where a gentleman throws his coat down over a puddle so his lady won’t soil her shoes. And another, where he just picks her up and carries her over it. I remember thinking, can’t they both just walk around the puddle?”
“I used it as a metaphor for a trend I’d noticed in the people I was dating… this sort of antiquated view of what qualifies as romantic. They’d go for a lot of grand gestures, but it’s like they were making these big displays so they didn’t have to do the real work of being in a relationship, knowing themselves, being honest about their feelings, etc. And I just thought, you know, no amount of flowers will make up for a real connection. Something about it felt infantilizing to me.”
“So I wrote “You don’t have to carry me across some imaginary water,” and the idea of “carrying” became a theme in the lyrics.”
“The romance of being carried isn’t lost on me, of course, and carrying each other through hard times is definitely real love. But what I’m expressing in this song is the joy of being able to carry myself, just being happy, feeling light, on my own: “You don’t have to carry me far / just to get me to see who you are / My feet are for walking / and it makes me feel free.”
‘Marry Me Once’ was recorded at the Dave Matthews Band’s Haunted Hollow Studio in Charlottesville, Virginia, US, and engineered by Rob Evans (DMB). It was mixed by Wayne Pooley (Bruce Hornsby) and mastered by Dave Collins.
‘Marry Me Once’ is out 25th April. Pre-save here:
Written by: leancool20
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