A perfect song about the creative process, “Tightrope” caught my ear when it came out in 2010, and hasn’t really let it go since. Based in a funky alternate reality in which the musicians are inmates in an insane asylum (now there’s some symbolism!), the song talks about how you have to keep on keeping on — and keep on making your art — no matter “whether you’re high or low,” or if people are criticizing you, or you’re on top of the world, or whatever. As an artist who struggles with keeping upbeat on dreary “down” kind of days, I find this song totally inspiring. Not to mention totally fun! Janelle Monáe sings it right on. Take a listen:
According to Wikipedia, Monáe said of the song, “Tightrope is basically dealing with how in life it’s important to keep your balance and not get too high or low about things during the time when you’re either being praised or being criticised. Which is something that, as artists, Big Boi and I could both relate to, because there are so many peaks and dips along the journey of just being an artist on the road to success. So we both felt it was important to kinda help those everyday working people who are constantly dealing with life’s obstacles, by giving them like a tutorial on how to deal with issues face-on.” (Janelle Monae interview by Pete Lewis, ‘Blues & Soul’ June 2010)
My favorite lyrics? These here:
See I’m not walkin’ on it
Or tryin’ to run around it
This ain’t no acrobatics
You either follow or you lead, yeah
I’m talkin’ bout you,
Or keep on blaming the machine,
Yeah I’m talkin’ bout it
Talk about talking about it! This song always reminds me to go for it, not run around it or avoid it — “it” being, invariably, the thing I’m most scared of doing. Reminds me of my mantra: keep moving forward.
What about you? Got a favorite part of this video?