Show Some Emotion: rediscovering Joan Armatrading

Out of the blue, during lunch time earlier this week, I just started singing out loud Woncha Come On Home by Joan Armatrading. It was the weirdest thing. I love that song and I know my brother adores that song that he started singing along too. I hadn’t heard the song recently. I haven’t even taken out my Joan Armatrading CDs. There was no reason for me to just suddenly come out singing it, but I did, and I just remembered how much I love her music.

I went searching through my old CDs for my collection but got exhausted and decided to just look online and bought new stuff off of iTunes; remastered tracks of songs I already had, some new songs, and pre-ordered a live album that’s coming out this month.

I’m happy that I’ve rediscovered her music. She’s magnificent. I love her voice. I love her lyrics. I love her melodies. Songs like Willow and Weakness in Me filled me with so much comfort and joy in the late 90s.

Now that I’m older, I’m hearing the songs very differently now. I’m taking notice of different elements in her music and her lyrics that I didn’t notice before.

But of all the songs that she’s done, for some reason, it’s Whatever’s For Us, For Us that has come back to me in such a powerful, powerful way. It’s so deceptively simple but the message comes very clear. Back then, I just focused on the title verse: whatever is for us, is for us.

But now that I’m older, I’m focused on the verse right before that when she talks of pride and love and life. Very simple but her questions echo mine and while her answers offer hope, instead they make me ponder at this changing world. Is it really so simple? Is it really that simple?

Her voice rings with hints of optimism and grace. It’s soothing and comforting. And yet… it still thrusts me into a state of endless questioning. The song was written and recorded back in 1972, a totally different time and frame of mind. It’s an almost alien world, when you think about it.

And this song from that period flies back to me in the present day and leaves me shaken.

Do what you will, say what you must coz whatever’s for us, for us

— Whatever’s For Us, For Us by Joan Armatrading

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