“Homesick” is the third single released off The Lone Bellow’s forthcoming album, Lovesongs for Losers. I’ve enjoyed the first two singles as well but just never got around to writing about them. I finally felt compelled to write about a song from this album this week not actually because of the song itself but because of the video Zachary Williams from The Lone Bellow posted on Instagram describing his inspiration for writing the song.
On the face of it the song is about his family and his childhood and memories of those times in his life. Had I not listened to him say more, that’s what I would have taken away from it and not really thought about any of the lyrics in any deeper way. However, he shared that the genesis of the song was actually the death of John Prine from COVID early in the pandemic. He didn’t know John Prine well. Prine was of course a musical influence. They had met and sung together a few times, but they didn’t have any kind of real meaningful relationship. Nevertheless John Prine’s death hit him hard, and as he was lying in bed that night not sleeping the line, “If you’re homesick, it’s your heart telling your mind that you love somebody”, went through his head. He got up out of bed and began thinking about those early childhood memories and combined all of it into the song “Homesick”.
All that background on the song made it hit differently with me especially in light of the loss of a beautiful soul this week. A few hours prior to hearing this song and his description of it for the first time I found out that Paula, the woman who had been the worship leader at my church had passed away. It wasn’t unexpected as I had known she was very sick, but news like that is never easy. Like with Zachary Williams and John Prine, I can’t say that I had any kind of close relationship with her. We occasionally chatted at church events or parties that we were both at, but I would not claim that we were friends. She was a weekly fixture in my life though, leading our worship services every Sunday with her amazing voice. Truly a gift from God.
That line about homesickness and knowing the background of where it came from made me start thinking about it in a different way. Normally I think of homesickness being about a place and perhaps also the people in that place, but not necessarily about actually missing specific situations or people, especially once they’re gone. Now I actually feel like it’s the perfect word to describe what I’m feeling. I don’t feel that immense sense of grief or loss because I didn’t have that kind of relationship with Paula that would cause that, but I do feel sadness and a longing for the experience of seeing her and hearing her sing that I know I will never have again. I never would have used the word homesick previously, but now I can’t think of a better word. So I’m dedicating this song to Paula and looking forward to one day beyond this earth when I can hear her sing again.