Tenille Townes has “been pacing a lot this past year,” she admits. “Something about putting one foot in front of the other feels therapeutic.”
In conversation with The Ty Bentli Show on Apple Music, the singer-songwriter reflected upon writing her new song “Girl Who Didn’t Care,” a co-write with Steph Jones and producer David Pramik, two friends whom she’d never met in person before. “We sat on a Zoom call and wrote the song,” she says. “I’ve been learning how to record my own vocals [for the] past year in Logic, which is also something I’ve never done before. [I] sent the checks over to David.
“The song came partly from walking around my neighborhood,” she continues, “and [I] noticed lots of sidewalk chalk art from neighbor kids and like hearing them playing in the backyard. And it’s like, ‘Man, to just have that wonder and the courage that they have to just see the world as something awesome. And to really not care what anyone thinks or not care about how far away a crazy dream is. That’s something that I want more of in my life now.’ So it was really fun to talk about that and channel that in writing the song.”
Within the song’s hopeful layers, Townes delivers specificity to tell her story. Saw a little dreamer, yellow rubber boots / You can’t fake a smile like that / She hasn’t learned how to, she sings, a wistfulness informing her vocal as she finds herself reflected back in those wide, youthful eyes. Looking at the world like a big old canvas / Spinning full of magic / Little more color, a little less damage.
The second verse turns inward with Townes firmly realizing she’s lost her sense of wonder in adulthood. I wanna go driving down a gravel road / Wanna see the whole sky / One airplane, hand out the window, she observes. Wanna marvel at a lightning bug / Go ahead and get lost In the wonder of the smaller stuff.
Such child-like whimsy erupts on the chorus, quickly shifting from intimate confession to the roaring anthem. I wanna worry a little less, love a little more / Barefoot in a dress, dancing on the floor ─ like I did, back when, when I was younger, she belts. Making up the songs, playing in my head / Didn’t matter what anybody said / Didn’t need to be like all the others / Giant dreams and wild hair.
In reclaiming wonder, or her version of it, Townes uncovers joy in even the mundane, everyday things. “Something happens to all of us at some point in our lives when we start noticing the cracks. We start realizing that we care about what somebody else thinks. That we want to belong and be accepted, and we’re scared we won’t be,” the singer-songwriter says. “We start measuring our worth against everything else around us. Childhood innocence doesn’t just wait around. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. But the wonder? I think that’s always a part of us if we want to remember it.”
For the accompanying music video, directed by Mason Dixon, Townes enlisted several real-life dreamers to star. Sarah Fuller, who became the first woman to play and score points in a Power Five College Football game last year; Alyssa Carson, selected as one of seven ambassadors to represent Mars One (on a mission to colonize Mars in 2030); and Shannon Wells, a firefighter based in Nashville, all take center stage and share their journeys in the clip.
“It was incredible to see the idea for this video come to life with all of them in it. I believe it’s a really powerful thing to see real people living out real stories of chasing their dreams,” says Townes. “It’s what makes a dream seem like a possible thing. I hope when people watch this, they feel inspired to chase their own dreams.”