“I am a snowflake, I fell from heaven
There is no other just like me
I am in wonder of my existence
My perfect symmetry”
By Randy Brown (Before I added Lewis)
From the album “But Wait, There’s More…”
This month I am quoting my own song. “I Am a Snowflake” which was originally released in 2012 on my second solo record, But Wait, There’s More…. The song was written to celebrate the birth of our first grandchild, Gracy, in 2009. I included it on the album because it was a perspective I wanted to impart to her as well as something I truly believed then and still do. In fact, when she was 3 or 4 she would sometimes be at concerts and I would bring her up to sing it with me. It was a wonderful experience. But then… 2016 happened and the term “snowflake” took on a derogatory meaning as a part of political and ideological rhetoric. Not wanting to alienate a portion of my fans, I discontinued performing the song altogether. In hindsight, that is the most artistically cowardly act I have ever done. So, I decided to talk about that very subject this month: artistic cowardice.
I have always attempted to stay pretty neutral as an artist when it comes to politics. Not because I have no strong opinions, but instead because I have very strong opinions. I don’t want to preach to the choir, reaching only those who I agree with. For me, art is far more than that. It is a deep sharing of yourself with your audience to the point where, in some cases, it becomes publicly performed therapy. I attempt to open myself up to my listeners as much as I possibly can, though I will be the first to admit I am not as fearless as some of my peers. In my opinion, the more open an artist is, the more effective they they are. That’s because, as different as we all seem as individuals, we are amazingly similar in our reactions, fears and dreams. As artists, I think our job is to share that which is personal in order to demonstrate that those most subjective feelings we feel are also pretty much universal. It all comes down to how we frame our words.
Going back to my song, the problem was that in some circles “snowflake” started being used as an insult in and was often used to attack someone, implying they were naive, entitled, and had an over-inflated sense of uniqueness. When that began, I ran like my dog runs from fireworks and hid the song away, removing it from set lists and performances. It was only within the last few days when a friend, Charlie Stewart, suggested that the song would be perfect as a children’s book, that I realized the mistake I had made. In my flailing attempt to explain to him why I no longer played that song., I suddenly realized I was being a coward and holding back something I believed to be true simply because others decided it was an insult.
The album But Wait, There’s More… was my effort to express my personal spiritual views. It was fairly successful in that many of the songs from it have become audience favorites. simply to avert any controversy and derision. To be honest, I was fine with that at the time. In fact, I had many conversations with fellow artists defending my decision. But in the past few days, after finally hearing myself offering lame excuses for abandoning my own creation out of fear of rejection, I can no longer distance myself from the song. Instead I intend to embrace it regardless of the consequences. So, here are the full lyrics:
I AM A SNOWFLAKE – Lyrics
INTRO: Snowflakes are falling. Like feathers from the sky.I hear them singing, calling as they tumble by. They sing…
VERSE 1: I am a snowflake, I fell from heaven. There is no other just like me. I am in wonder of my existence. my perfect symmetry.
VERSE 2: Here on this hillside are many snowflakes. We are all different but the same. When we have melted, we’ll flow together, back to the crystal stream.
BRIDGE: Snowflakes to water oceans tide. Sunlight to clouds and snowy skies.
VERSE 3: We are all snowflakes, God’s purest water. We wait here for the sun. To send us racing back to the ocean, where we’ll again be one.
In order to hopefully redeem myself to myself, I have created a video to go with the original recording and am sharing it here, on my social platforms, and in my monthly newsletter: I am a Snowflake. Forgiving yourself is much more difficult than forgiving others. At least for me it is.
As an artist, I realize that I have been far too concerned with how people will react to my songs. I have avoided any song which I felt might be considered controversial. I am ashamed of that fact. I now fully understand that I have always done my best to avoid conflict but that, as an artist, it is my job to take my subjective truth and put it out there, regardless of the consequences. If it causes conflict, then so be it.
So, there you have it. My confession of artistic cowardice. This doesn’t mean I will be be writing songs to intentionally push folk’s buttons. I don’t work like that, but I will attempt to avoid over thinking my words. Anyone can say anything is wrong, insulting or controversial but that does not make it so. It certainly doesn’t mean I should stop saying what I honestly think simply because it pisses somebody else off. No artist is going to be loved by everyone. No matter what we do or say someone will question it. If it was my intent is to simply express my truth, then how it is taken becomes their problem. I can only control my intent but not the response of others.
…Until next time…
Randy Lewis Brown may be an over-the-hill, baby boomer and cranky old coot, but he is also an award-winning Northeast Texas-based singer-songwriter and self-proclaimed “performing philosopher.” Despite his years, and an early bedtime, he remains steadfast in attempting to decipher the intersection of spirit, faith, science and the human condition, always trying to maintain a sense of wonder and whimsy in his occasionally clever folk-Americana songs and stories.