On the surface, Sara Melson’s latest single “All The Time” is breezy and bright. But underneath Melson’s flowy vocals is a morbid reminder.
“One day who knows when / you’ll be drifting like the wind / you might want to hold somebody’s hand,” she sings in the opening verse over gentle guitar, piano, and violin parts. “Your legs won’t work / like they used to / you’ll have to squint at the menu / trust me someday soon you’ll understand.”
“‘All The Time’ is about the delusion of immortality,” Melson tells American Songwriter over email. “The question that it asks—‘Do you think you have all the time in the world?’—is really directed at myself, but it applies to all of us. It’s meant to be a wake-up call. Although I wrote it over a year ago, it feels especially prescient in the current moment.”
In the song—premiering below—Melson delivers hard-won wisdom about relationships, aging, and regret. “Back when I didn’t know / I let some good things go / don’t do what I have done / don’t wait forever for the one / ‘cause I used to think I had all the time,” she belts in the bridge.
“All The Time” will appear on Melson’s forthcoming EP, Wild & Precious Life, which follows her 2016 album Safe and Sound and a handful of recent singles including “Ride or Die” and “Rather Have You.” The Indiana-born singer-songwriter says that Wild & Precious Life is about staying present.
“The themes of the EP are change and gratitude,” she explains. “As I live longer, I understand that the only constant in life is change, and I think we’re all beginning to grasp that a bit more starkly now. With the realization that nothing will ever stay the same comes immense gratitude for the fleeting moment. It invites surrender and acceptance, because we realize that although we can take steps that are necessary for self-care, preparation, and so forth; ultimately, we are not in control of what’s to come, and predicting the future is a futile exercise. This makes the value of the present that much more heightened and wondrous. Hence the name ‘Wild & Precious Life,’ which is inspired by a poem by the great poet Mary Oliver.”
The poem in question is Oliver’s “The Summer Day.” First published in 1992, it ends with several of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet’s most famous lines: “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? / Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?” Oliver passed away, at 83, last January.
Though Melson is known as a solo artist, “All the Time” and Wild & Precious Life were team efforts. “On ‘All The Time,’ Danny Hechter, who played guitar, was instrumental in the producing and arranging process as well,” says Melson. “He and I basically co-produced. Sean Sobash played bass, Jonas Streffer drums, and Koi Anunta violin. I was on piano and vocals. The engineer was Colin Leibich, and it was mixed and mastered by Rick Parker.”
A few tracks on the EP were produced, mixed, and mastered by PeachMusicLA’s Eric Breiner. “Rick recorded others with input and co-production from me and Danny,” adds Melson. “Others were tracked in my living room with Danny and Nick Diiorio, who is a superb bassist and arranger, at the helm.”
For Melson, “All The Time” is a call to embrace life. “Now more than ever, it’s impossible to escape into the fantasy that we have forever and ever stretching out before us—that we can safely procrastinate prioritizing life, love, and connection,” she says. “The days of pushing what is important further down the road are over, and in a lot of ways, that’s a good thing. When we embrace the reality that we all will die—and that death could in fact come suddenly, at any moment—we become much more keenly aware of and more deeply appreciate each and every day of life and health.”
With this positive outlook in mind, the song feels like an invitation—as Mary Oliver might put it—“to pay attention.”
Wild & Precious Life is out June 19.