At 2 a.m. I trolled the Internet in search of something to put me to sleep. Instead, I stumbled upon “Mrs. Hendrix,” a poem only two minutes and 29 seconds long that forced me to relive the past five years of my life.
I’ve always admired spoken-word artists. The thought of standing before a crowd of strangers and inviting them into your living room terrifies me. But that night I took a seat beside a girl named Lindsay Young and let her tell me how my life as a struggling music student and that of million-dollar, dirty-Sprite-drinking Future Hendrix were sadly not that different.
Wedged somewhere between codeine-laden lyrics and that Metro Boomin’ bass is the pain of someone on public display. Even if you dress it up and make it extremely real for us, an audience won’t hear anything out of place. We’ll just nod our heads to the beat and call it art.
But why is that? Isn’t art an expression of feelings or, at the very least, an imitation of reality? Despite my transparency about the isolation and self-esteem issues I face at times, all that those around me hear are catchy melodies, and, as Young put it so well,
“People call them beautiful before they call me damaged.”
And I can’t say I’m not guilty of turning a deaf ear to not-so-inconspicuous cries for help. It wasn’t until I began performing covers live and writing my own songs that I even took the time to wonder what thoughts race through artists’ minds as they create. I was so focused on how lines resonated with me and left me impatient for another project to be released for my consumption that I forgot that ‘artist’ isn’t just a word. An artist is a person who feels the pressures of life just like I do. The only difference is they are willing to share those feelings with an audience.
So here’s to the Future Hendrixes who drown themselves in dirty Sprite before filled stadiums, as well as the Lindsay Youngs who are brave enough to draw attention to it.