Ron Pope Shares Hard Honesties with “If Love Was Easy”

Back in July, singer-songwriter Ron Pope gave the public its first taste of the musical chapter to follow his March 2020 album, Bone Structure through his single “Morphine.” Since then, the Nashville musician has been on quite the roll with inspiration, leading to more new songs for his year long songwriting project / album, “The Builder,” and today, Pope brings out another with “If Love Was Easy.”

Not one to hide the temporary pitfalls and internal conflicts that come his way, over the years, Pope has generously shared the many dimensions of life experience that shaped his outlook, as both a working musician and a person. Just the formation of his current family and support system in his wife and manager Blair, and young daughter, is a journey that was not without pages of uncertainty, self-discovery, and the need for personal growth, before evolving to the committed, joyous, and emotionally secure place it is in today. Now with “If Love Was Easy,” Pope continues his intention of connecting with others through his own lived lens.

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“I’m telling the story (in “If Love Was Easy”) because this is something that I have experienced myself but (also,) I think when you stumble into these, sort of universal truths or, nearly-universal kind of experiences, it feels important to me to try to express how I felt about them when I experienced them,” Pope says. “[T]hat’s been important,” he continues, “just trying to express things from my own life that I think, you know, people can connect with and experiences that other people maybe they have had – especially ones that, you know, don’t tend to end up in songs.”

Past turning to first hand life experiences for his writing, Pope points out that detail specificity and nuance beyond the surface concept of a happy relationship song or a typical breakup song, really matters to him.

“You know, people talk about being loved and people talk about breaking up (but) I don’t know a whole bunch of songs that are about, you know, when you love someone, but you can’t make it work,” he says. “I guess it felt pretty particular to me that, you know, that (specific scenario) doesn’t always end up in a song. And so all of those are reasons (are) why I felt like I wanted to share this (song).”

The scars from the doubts and rejection Pope was dealt in the song may have since faded. However, the very way in which Pope’s desire for connection is described throughout, paints an extremely vivid picture of things both literal and metaphorical, that make the experience sewn into “If Love Was Easy” sound like a still very fresh wound.

Couldn’t help myself and said ‘I love you’ / You didn’t say it back but that’s all right / Sat there in the bathtub getting wrinkled / soaking in the silence as the night

Etched your angles on my hippocampus / where I keep these treasures you can’t steal / There are times remembering you’s a poison / at least the scars remind me you were real

The meticulous and detail-specific wording chosen to explain how Pope traversed this loss is impressive for how quickly and intensely it can pull listeners into the severity of the emotional conflict. All the same, it also begs the question of how Pope dealt with revisiting a source of pain he so fastidiously described.

“For me, it’s like, if something is happening in my life, I’m living it, I’m not writing, and I’m living (and) doing it. And so, I tend to really write, you know, with some distance between me and the thing happening in my life. I’m not necessarily writing a journal about what’s happening to me today. A lot of times, it’s like a chapter read from much earlier in my autobiography than the moment that I am currently living,” Pope explains.

“And that’s something that I do,” he continues. “I think as the kind of songwriter that I am, where I’m often sharing these kind of point by point narratives from my own life, it’s good, I think that I have been able to continue to tell these stories but not have to live inside of them anymore.” Pope affirms, as he elaborates further on why this approach to songwriting serves him best, as opposed to tackling a song when the emotional weight of an experience is still fresh.

“I think a lot of people have that like the idea of being the wounded troubadour; that you have to go through your life continuously banging your head against the wall and starting all of these problems or else you won’t be able to create,” he says. “And so for me, it’s been good to to realize that I actually, I write best when writing about things that happens to me somewhere in the in the distance and I am looking back at them with a degree of perspective, that I wouldn’t have if I wrote the song while I was going through whatever it is that I’m talking about.”

Add to this, the idea that Pope is only continuing to have revelations in the present, blending the permanence of his past with his hopes and aspirations for the future, there’s an immediate curiosity that rises up. While 2020 has yet to come to a close, events, emotions, and personal perspectives from the opening months of the year reside in a memory space that seems from nearly another lifetime.

People the world over have trudged through every facet of emotional high and low in a period of mere months and while nothing is fully solved yet, who everyone is now, likely stands a world apart from who they were before this much change rained down on daily life. Just with regard to music making in general, never mind Pope’s larger running year-long project, “The Builder,” Pope openly admits this undertaking came together purely as a result of the unforeseen nature of this year’s events.

“You know, if you would have told me in March, when I was putting out (my last album,) Bone Structure, that I had worked on for nearly two years, at that point…If you would have said that in July, I was going to start releasing new recordings, every other week, for a year, I would say to you that you’re out of your mind,” Pope says.

“But, you know, going through this experience and realizing that people needed something to look forward to. So then I realized that I had a bunch of material that I loved – things that I hadn’t finished (and) things that like, we ran out of time (for) in the studio. And so now I’m releasing these recordings every other week. Six months ago, I couldn’t have imagined myself doing this, I couldn’t have imagined these songs coming out right now.” says Pope.

“I thought that I would be on tour, promoting Bone Structure for another, probably at least another year,” he explains. “And instead, I just, I felt like it was more important for us at this juncture, to do what we whatever little thing that we could do, to make some people feel a little bit better if we could do that. I thought it was our responsibility to our community to do it. And so that’s, for me how we ended up doing (songs for “The Builder”).”

To that end, much the same way Pope’s present self thought back to a version of himself from a lost love – gaining new introspection from doing so – reflecting on what his past self might think of “If Love Was Easy,” as well as the present changes to Pope’s creative trajectory in general, incurs its own flood of insightful understanding.

I would say the way I think about my role in the lives of the members of my audience has fundamentally changed this year,” Pope begins.

“In a way, I’m a participant in the community (of my fans) but I’m also perhaps the leader,” he continues. “And so I just felt like I owed it to these people to do whatever I could to try to bring them whatever measure of joy that I could. And it seemed like giving people music on a regular basis, and giving them the impetus to engage with one another and with with us, that felt good to a lot of people. And they have been really––people been very engaged with all of this. So yeah, that’s me. There’s no way in the world that I would be doing this (project) in a normal year but, it’s not a normal year. It is the most abnormal year of my life, and probably in everyone’s life.” Pope says.

If nothing else, “If Love Was Easy” makes for a pleasant listen from the outset, while also serving as an effective catalyst for meaningful rumination about an interpersonal phenomenon that’s often taken for granted.

I think (“If Love Was Easy”), for me, feels like it is driven primarily by the lyrical content,” Pope explains.

“And as a result of that, whenever my songs have something like that going on in them, I want to make sure the arrangement stays out of the way of that as much as possible. That’s why the vocal in this (song) is very delicate. I’m not singing too much (and) not trying to put on a show with the melody. The point of this song is that you hear what is happening with the lyrics and that you aren’t distracted by anything else. That’s why it’s so delicate.” he says.

The straightforward sonic purity of clean acoustic guitar, piano, and other gentle instrumentation being paired with an equally straightforward implication that love isn’t easy, ironically gives the song an easy to underestimate quality. But that fact that the conceptual root of “If Love Was Easy” is about acknowledging all the subtle ways love can get injured, confused, turned down, impeded, or derailed, means that long after every musical and lyrical element of Pope’s song has been fleshed out, there’s still infinite reason to listen and reflect, at least for as many times as one wants to contemplate how to keep their love going strong.

I just wanted to make sure that we didn’t do anything that distracted from the lyrics because that, to me, is the point of (“If Love Was Easy,”) kind of above all other things (about it),” Pope affirms.

“And you know, I mean, I feel lucky (with regard to) that,” he continues, “I’m not married to some kind of particular ‘sonic thing.’ You know, there’s no sonic thumb prints, where you hear it and you automatically go, ‘Oh, that’s what he does.’ I like to have the freedom to try to make the production serve the song. So with (“If Love Was Easy,”) it just felt like the song called for us to be very, very delicate with it.”

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