On the newest episode of SongWriter playwright and musician Ethan Lipton reads a fiction graduation speech, and songwriter Sarah Jaffe performs a brand new song she wrote in response. I interviewed Sarah about her song a few weeks after the live show. Read below for a preview of the episode.
Ben Arthur: You told me that you had a really strong reaction to Ethan’s speech when you first read it. What was the first thing you connected with?
Sarah Jaffe: Ethan mentioned how many times he’d been lucky, and that carried the biggest weight for me because I’m also very lucky, but it doesn’t make your problems feel any less real.
BA: You were saying that you especially like the way Ethan’s speech is oriented towards a younger audience, right?
SJ: I find that when I’m talking to kids, or people younger than me, it usually has nothing to do with the kid or what they’re doing. It almost always is just me projecting onto them like how they should live because of what I’ve been through. And in Ethan’s short story I felt there was a lot of myself in it.
BA: In your song you give your own advice to young people, a very specific intervention…
SJ: Therapy! I feel like if you’re living on planet earth, you should be in therapy.
BA: Agreed! His speech surprised me, because even with –– and possibly because –– he gives this very earnest, solemn deliverance, the piece is really very funny.
SJ: To me the humor was taking that hardship and taking that wisdom you accumulated from it, and then shuffling it off on a group of people who haven’t had a chance to figure it out for themselves…which is very like me!
You can hear Ethan Lipton’s speech and the brand new song that Sarah wrote in response on the newest episode of SongWriter. Tune in to the Songwriter podcast for more conversations like this one. The next live online show will feature novelist Odie Lindsey and songwriter Mary Gauthier.
Photo Credit: Lindsey Byrnes