New York singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten
has surprise-released a new ballad, "Not Myself," in honor of the victims of the Orlando Nightclub Shooting back in June. This emotional track has a very simple instrument setup, with only piano, string-led drones, and haunting backup harmonies, but is still incredibly potent and intense in context of the events in Orlando. You hear the unfettered grief in Van Etten's voice as she sings, "In the ashes of the aftermath, pray," and beautifully declares in the song's chorus, "I want you to be yourself around me," like someone simply trying to makes sense of how people are murdered for the sole reason of being alive. Allowing people to feel safe to be who they are sounds like such a simple and intuitive concept, but as we've seen time and time again, hate crime after hate crime, that is clearly not the case.
Given its somber tone and dark themes, it's not necessarily an easy track to listen to, but a good song doesn't always have to be. This track shows how music can be a tool for mourning, for both the artist and the listener, and a way for those who connect with the music to also emphasize with the people affected by this awful tragedy. "Not Myself" is meant for you to stop everything, listen, and think about what it really means to feel safe, to ensure that everyone, no matter who they are, doesn't need to worry about losing everything because of one hateful person with a gun.
While the song is dedicated to the families and loved ones of the Orlando shooting victims, Van Etten will be donating the song's proceeds to the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, an organization dedicated to making every town in the US safer for everyone. You can listen to the song right here, and read Van Etten's accompanying statement below. If you also want to donate directly to Everytown for Gun Safety, you can do that here
I was home with my parents in New Jersey when I heard of the shooting at the nightclub in Florida. Hate, violence, and intolerance has always upset me, but I haven't been this overwhelmed with sadness and disbelief in a long time. The victims were only trying to be themselves and be comfortable and safe in their surroundings. That safety was violated out of fear and with a gun.
I originally wanted to raise money for the victims and their families, but I knew the issue was bigger than this. I wrote "Not Myself" for the victims of this horrific event, but I chose to support the research and awareness work of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund: a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities.
In the memory of those trying to be safe and be themselves, I hope we can all come together to help prevent another massacre like this and end gun violence.
Sharon Van Etten