THE STORY BEHIND "GIVE UP THE GHOST"

All of my favorite pieces of work that I’ve had a hand in creating came from a crazy idea in some sense or another. That's how the video for "Give Up The Ghost" came to be. I had finished recording, mixing and mastering the song, but I wanted to expand the storytelling aspect to visuals. Sometimes, I’ve found that it’s better to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission. With that philosophy in mind, I decided I would create my own music video on my own dime and in the way I wanted to. 

I didn’t tell anyone about my plans. At the time, I wasn’t sure if this video would ever see the light of day. The music business can be unpredictable, so I wasn’t sure if the song would ever be heard, either. 

I had a vision for the video and I contacted a filmmaker friend of mine from middle school, Cole Smith, to see if he would be down to make this with me. The conversation went something like, “Hey I have this idea and location for a music video I want to shoot. It involves breaking in, but if we get arrested I will pay all your fines. Are you down?” I don’t think he hesitated for even a second. 

Earlier that year Cole came to Nashville to film the recording of my album, so I was familiar with his style of filmmaking. But this would be our first real collaboration, which led to many more projects. Getting to collaborate with your friends is a really exhilarating experience.

I’ve always loved exploring and discovering abandoned places. There’s a thrill in not knowing what you might uncover… or imagining the stories of people that were there before you…There’s something about the way places can seem to hold secrets or memories that feels haunting. In that sense, the location sort of became a character in the video. It naturally felt haunted, decaying, broken…. And in contrast showed signs of life (in the foliage, light coming through the walls and broken windows, and evidence of human presence). The location at times captures that sense of “well maybe we can rebuild… maybe there’s hope” that is also in the lyrics.

I wrote "Give Up The Ghost" with Emily Shackelton. She is an immensely talented writer and she also allowed me to feel comfortable enough to tell her some of my story, which became the inspiration for this song. 

Everyone has a past, but some of us have ghosts that haunt more than others. I was in a serious relationship… we had been together for a while, he moved to Nashville for me, and I knew about his past. But for some reason his past kept popping back up and disrupting our relationship. His past didn’t have to be physically near but I felt like it was a shadow lingering. 

Lyrically, I think Emily and I did a good job of not making this song about blame or pointing the finger. And at the time, that’s how I felt. It was this clarity of “I love you… but I didn’t sign up to be in this triangle”. 

— “But two of us is one two many. 

Open the door and set her free. 

Give Up The Ghost hold onto me”

In the video I wanted to end the story with a sense of hope. We see in the beginning this character trapped in this space… as if searching for a way out or an answer. Ultimately, we end with her finding a way out of the house and into the forest. The final shots, while having a sense of hope, still feel ominous, and it's easy to ask yourself, “Well, where is she going now? And is wherever she ends up better than where she was?" 

I guess you’ll have to listen and watch what’s to come to find out. - LJ

 

 

Comments

Medium

  • Images with a data-picture-mapping attribute will be responsive, with a file size appropriate for the browser width.