• Jay Jacobson

Lonely Motel

I just heard a great quote, which I haven’t heard in a while, by the brilliant Oscar Wilde:

“There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”

Perfectly said! I don’t know how many of us are raised to understand how difficult life is. I certainly wasn’t. Not that life was so easy for me growing up – it wasn’t. I never had a lot of friends and was picked on in school constantly which was very difficult, especially being a very sensitive kid. The kids at school were very cruel and I had a very hard time. However, even while that was happening, I pictured my life turning out great, and me being happy when I got older. In my dreams, it was always visions only of happiness. As I’ve lived more and more, I understand that there are periods in life of happiness, periods of sadness, moments of fear, and times of grief – and so on. That has been one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my life – to accept all of it. As expressed throughout my latest CD, “The Ride”, I see that life is a journey with all type of feelings and situations included in the mix – each one just as valid and appropriate as the next.

Perhaps being sensitive is one of the reasons I’ve always loved sad songs – especially as a kid. They said the things I didn’t give myself permission to feel. They sing of the loneliness or the pain or disappointment I felt, but didn’t express. Hearing someone else sing about it – the way I felt it – took a little burden off my shoulders and let me know I wasn’t the only one feeling that way. As a kid I remember hearing “At Seventeen” by Janis Ian, and even though she was singing about being a girl, I felt like the “ugly ducking” she sang about. I felt comfort from the song, and it let out some of the emotion I had bottled inside. I remember hearing Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” for the first time. It stopped me in my tracks. I couldn’t breath. I bought it, and whenever I played it in private it would bring tears. I love sad songs. They are full of emotion and help dislodge feelings.

As a songwriter, I’ve only written a few completely sad songs. The one that immediately comes to mind is “Lonely Motel”, the only country song I’ve ever written or sang. It was released as a digital single only (since I didn’t think it fit on my CD at the time). I remember the concept of “checking in to a lonely motel” coming to me, and I knew at once – with those lyrics – it had to be a country song! A funny footnote about recording the song (which I still remember vividly) – I recorded the vocals while standing in a clothes closet! My producer at the time was in the process of moving his recording studio, and I recorded it in his house. The only place that was quiet enough with the right sound absorption was in a tiny closet full of clothes! So I stood there, with hanging clothes touching me in every direction, singing the song. I think somehow, it helped with interpreting the emotion of the lyrics. I’m very happy with how it came out. I love the orchestration and arrangement, and I’m often told it is one of the favorites of my songs by fans.

So for any of you who happen to be in a place where you feel you’ve given everything you have and nothing has worked out, here’s “Lonely Motel”:


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#LonelyMotel #AtSeventeen #FastCar #TracyChapman #OscarWilde #CountrySong #JayJacobson #JanisIan #SadSongs

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