| Singers. Songwriters. Sisters.
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Homespun

Take My Heart (Fill the Empty)

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I first remember it when I was 7. My family made a big cross country move that didn’t make much sense to me. My sisters rushed off to their new rooms upstairs and I found mine on the bottom floor. I opened my closet, lay down flat inside, and shut the door. It was just my size. Perfectly my size. With my head in a pile of dust, I listened as my family rushed in and out of the rooms above me and for one minute, I was invisible. Just me and my Empty.

17 years old I sat at the kitchen table with that same family and stated in a flat tone “life just isn’t what I thought it would be.” Cue the flushed look on their faces as they quickly asked: What are you talking about? What happened? Where is this coming from? They meant well, but I couldn’t answer. So, much to their dismay, I didn’t. At the first moment I could leave without stirring up any more attention, I went back to my room and took a sigh of relief. Finally, it was just me, Elton John’s “Tumbleweed Connection”, and my Empty.

I had seen this flustered reaction before. I saw it in my teachers, my friends, on dates, at church...whenever I showed my Empty to other people. Some took advantage of it, some tried to fix it, sometimes it made my mother cry. So I spent the majority of my teenage years learning how to conceal my Empty. I inherited it from my Dad. It’s one of my favorite parts about him. Too bad it doesn’t always fly at parties.

So, about the song.

Last year after playing a show at a warehouse coffee shop on Hollywood Blvd I sat down with a cup and listened to the closing act. A happy pop duo started strumming a nice toe tapping song that had the whole shop singing. There it was again my old familiar friend, my Empty. I pulled out my phone and wrote down the words “I can’t shake the empty.”  

That night I went home and churned out the chorus to Take My Heart as a love note to Me, Myself, and I. Yep. It’s actually a selfish song. It’s easy to write when your emotions are present, so I imagined what it would feel like for someone to dauntlessly love my quiet. What would it sound like if someone loved both me AND my Empty. If I had the perfect words to love myself, what would they be? No flushed and burdened faces. No earnest questions. Just acceptance, relief, and love. Me and My Empty.

I’d love to tell you the whole song flowed out easily, but I guess self-love is a discipline. For months I’d pick it up, put it down, and twist out the words and chords. At one point I refused to perform it on stage because I hated the bridge so much (what a diva). But eventually it came together, and by the time we reached the studio recording a year later it grew into whole new song.  But you know was the first person to love the song when it was just a chorus? My dad. He picked it out of a pile of 10 unfinished songs and said “That one. I love that one.”

Love,

The Brunette Sestra and The Empty


Stephanie PodolakComment