Well, I've been afraid of changin'
Reflections on vulnerability, Paramore Album Eve, and the deep cut Hayley played acoustic at their show on Monday
Since Paramore started touring again, they’ve done a lot of fan service.
Specifically, they’ve been performing songs they don’t usually do, that they know long-time fans will lose their minds for. “All I Wanted” for the first time live, at When We Were Young Fest. “Misguided Ghosts,” a deeper cut, at Corona Capital Fest in Mexico City. They’re having fun with it, too—you can tell—they are NOT ones to play shit they don’t want to play.
So at the show on Monday, I was thinking they’d probably do something special in addition to the hits. After all, it was the album release show! I wasn’t too pressed, though: after the week I had—getting laid off, losing power for 4 nights, etc—I was barely holding it together.
But then, as the rest of the band retreated to side stage and Hayley pulled out an acoustic guitar, I knew what was coming. She was gonna do “In The Mourning / Landslide.” “In The Mourning” is basically a b-side, released as one of three random singles in between albums in 2011. But there’s a famous performance of it where she and Taylor end the song with the chorus of “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac. It’s a video every diehard Paramore fan knows and loves.
She precluded the song by sharing that playing guitar by herself onstage is terrifying to her, and she was doing it, in part, to challenge herself.
“This is something that I wanted to do and I’ll be honest with you, I’m scared shitless right now,” Hayley admitted.
“I want to play something that means a lot to the story of Paramore. In fact, whenever I was telling the guys that I wanted to play it, Zac was like, ‘I don’t know that song.’ And I was like, ‘Bro, that’s ‘cause it’s about you, man.’”
This gutted me. The three singles were the first songs released without Zac and his older brother Josh, after their abrupt departure from the band. Even though Hayley and Zac have long since reconciled, for him to not even know the song—because he wasn’t there—it upped the ante. This moment wasn’t a performance for Hayley. It was a confessional.
“When Zac originally left the band it was like my first real brush with grief. It just felt like the world was falling apart. So we wrote this song… Taylor helped me. I wrote it when I only knew one picking pattern, and it was like that fake ‘Blackbird’ picking pattern that everyone at Guitar Center plays… That was me,” she joked.
We don’t often think of our heroes as being vulnerable. We don’t think about them fumbling with a chord progression, or really losing a friend, or trying something that makes them feel truly uncomfortable.
“In The Mourning” could be a country song. Hayley’s voice soared over the simple 4-chord chorus. And before the second chorus, the crux of the song:
And now it seems like the whole world's waiting
Can you hear the echoes fading?
The whole show, I kept trying to tell myself: I’m really doing it. I’m a music writer, and I’m traveling to see an album release show for my favorite band. And every time, I felt like I was met with echoes. It was the job, and the ice storm, but it wasn’t just the job and the ice storm. I am tired of feeling this dark.
Well I’ve been afraid of changin’
’Cause I built my life around you
Well time makes you bolder
Children get older
I’m getting older too
Life keeps going, and all we can do is keep singing and writing and playing guitar in front of a crowd even when it’s scary. All we can do is reach further down into ourselves and find what’s still there and be generous with it.
Paramore’s sixth album, This Is Why, is now out on Spotify where I am. I’m going to listen to it tomorrow, in the car like I always do, and then I’m going to write about it—something that I feel like, in some ways, this newsletter has been building toward since I started it in November. And I’m going to do my best to dig down beneath the exhaustion, the existential dread, the fear of seeming uncool, and tap into the pure love my 16-year-old self has for a band, and try to share that with you.
“I mean, fuck,” Hayley prefaced the song with, right before she started picking. “Here goes nothin’.”
For the last time this side of the album,
Katie from Paramore*
*Hayley had/has “Hayley from Paramore” as her name on social media so a lot of fan accounts (I guess now including me) do it too
One more time :’) How many days til This Is Why comes out?
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