That One Song : “Ordinary People” by John Legend


*”THAT ONE SONG” is a 2019 sequel to the “My Song Story” series . Patrick picks songs and shares personal stories of significance and reverence about them. *

To describe a relationship as “complicated” seems like a totally lame, dancing-around-the-truth kind of catch all until you yourself meet someone with whom you use to personally define the term. For me, that’s my high school sweetheart.

Our relationship was rarely blissful – I was often aloof with my emotions, she often controlling with hers – and we were on and off again. We were theatre kids which also meant all of our typical high school relationship trials were amplified to levels of dramatic extremes.

For a year or so this was a merry go round we were (somehow) happy to exist on. But by the summer of 2009 things had changed. This was mostly an *off* period and we had spent significant time apart, eventually coming back together but each with new perspectives. I did a summer musical with a brand new group of friends and had the time of my life. She began to enjoy a more unencumbered lifestyle than my admittedly prude habits would allow. She was going off to college and I was getting serious about my own future heading into my senior year of high school. Up until this point, evolutions within people I was close to involved a natural parting of ways via differing interests or a personality conflict so glaring it was obvious we couldn’t continue. But here was someone that I loved and still had a lot in common with but had clearly changed.

It was a difficult period and a loss of innocence for me. I struggled with it for months. Music has always been a source of comfort and this time I found it largely within one song – John Legend’s “Ordinary People.”

I can’t recall many other instances when a song so perfectly soundtracked my life and what I was feeling. Every lyric spoke to me, from being “past the infatuation phase” to “no fairy tale conclusions, y’all.” It has all the emotional highs and lows of a relationship. It’s a love song and a goodbye song. There’s acceptance and there’s resignation. The fact that it was just a piano and vocal gave it a raw authenticity that I connected with as well. It was a real song about real life.

And real life, as it turns out, could be complicated.

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