“If I was who I was before, then I’d be waiting at your door, but I cannot confess I am the same…”– Give a Little, Maggie Rogers
Female singer-songwriters are, to me, one of the most powerful people in the world. It takes a pure talent and skill to communicate the complicated and vulnerable feelings that go on in a woman’s head, heart, and soul. But those that do it successfully, hit a profound chord and go on to inspire generations of musicians to come.
Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez started a movement of adding color and vulnerability to folk music, which pushed forward the efforts that musicians like Bob Dylan had made popular. Stevie Nicks redefined what it meant to be a woman in rock: vulnerability isn’t exclusive from electric guitar music.
Obviously, there’s been so many more female singer-songwriters that have embroidered their style in the fabric of the music industry. Someone remind me to do a blog post on the women that have inspired me most.
One special singer-songwriter that has recently been inspiring me and the upcoming generation is Maggie Rogers.
Her words, her pleading voice, and her intentional instrumentation hearken back to the traditions of folk and confessional songwriting but with clear influences of modern R&B, electronic, and indie pop. And I love it.
I recently fell completely in love her after watching her NPR Tiny Desk performance. I had listened to a few of her songs for sometime but after watching that video, she spoke to me as deeply as Joni, Joan, and Stevie have over the years. I had seen other people were singing her praises and I was curious to listen to more of her music, especially as I’ve been deep in the trenches of being a young adult dealing with growing up. Plus, after looking at her Instagram and performance outfits, her vibe really resonated with me.
“Oh, in my mind, I’m thinking of a place. Where no one knows me, and no one knows you. You don’t know me and I don’t know you..”-Give A Little, Maggie Rogers
The first song of hers I became attached to was “Give a Little.” I discovered it through a Spotify playlist last summer and I swear to the Lord, I must’ve had it on repeat for weeks.
I knew exactly why “Give A Little” was important to me. At the time, I was going through the dating experience I keep referencing. This song explained how I wanted to approach this opportunity.
As someone with a big heart that tends to go all in very easily, I knew I needed to practice self-restraint as much as I could. I knew that I had a lot to give but I knew that it was important to be patient with the process and not put this guy on a pedestal, like I had done many times before.
“Give a little, get a little, maybe we can get to know each other.” Approaching this opportunity from that realistic and patient lens helped not only keep things light for me, but it saved me from what could’ve been a really bad heartbreak.
Funnily enough, the night I met up with him to call it off, a friend of mine invited me to see Maggie Rogers at the The Greek Theatre. I seriously thought about cancelling to go to the concert, but my sense of right and wrong urged me to not run away from that difficult conversation. Ugh, I just know would’ve been a phenomenal concert.
Anyway, since that all happened, that song has still been important to me because its core theme is empathy. Trying to be friends with someone you once dated also doesn’t happen overnight, if at all. But if there’s any decency in the both of ya, you know that empathy and patience are crucial to rebuilding.
On that note, the other song of hers that has hit me in the heart is Light On. In the past, when I stopped liking a guy for whatever reason, I would let my anger and disappointment get the better of me so I could channel it into building myself up. “Oh, I’ll show them!! I’m gonna be better for myself and not them!!” I would think to myself. It was good for me to channel that energy into being better, but I’d totally disassociate myself from that guy as if he ever existed. It was unkind and it felt kinda out of character for me.
Now, friendships are a two-way street, I know that. And truthfully, I don’t know if we’ll actually end up being friends. But my thought and approach comes from this song.
“Oh, if you keep reaching out, then I’ll keep coming back. And if you’re gone for good, then I’m okay with that. If you leave the light on, then I’ll leave the light on…”-Light On, Maggie Rogers
In this life, we can’t really hold on to much. Not to be nihilistic, but everything fades over time. Sparks of romance, good seasons, friends, even family unfortunately. I don’t lose hope because I know what doesn’t. More on that in another blog post though.
Another song I want to highlight right now is “Burning.” This song has hit me because although it’s a love song, it focuses on the joy of life. I’m in a time of my life where I want to dance as much as I can, share joy with people as much as I can, and just celebrate life. This song feels like a theme song to all of that.
Anyways, Maggie Rogers not only paints beautiful pictures through her use of imagery (i.e. “let me be the light upon the lake”) but her voice just yearns to dive into your soul. And you gotta let it.
She’s only released one full album, but as I’ve hinted earlier in this post, you want to keep an eye on her. She’s definitely on to something.
Maggie is nominated for a Grammy for Best New Artist and alongside a stellar class. I made a playlist of her shining moments so you don’t ask who she is alongside Lizzo, Lil Nas X, Rosalía, and Billie Eilish. When listening to this playlist, I recommend buying and lighting some candles, calling a chill night in, and allowing yourself to soak in her music.
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