10/21 "Falling Down" (album: The Wanderlings Volume Two) comes from one act of the Thumbelina story by Hans Christian Andersen. The part she spends underground with the Field Mouse.
Thumbelina was born from a flower which opened, revealing her tiny form. She was kidnapped to become a gift-bride, and escaped, but the snow began to fall and she had no where to go.
What begins as an act of kindness and generosity, over the weeks that pass become a favour to be repaid. "I took you in; you owe me." I have met people like this in my past. Folks who believe that they are owed for their kindness, revealing the truth that it was never kindness to begin with.
The Field Mouse honestly cannot understand why Thumbelina wouldn't want to marry the mole she's picked out for her. Thumbelina becomes an obligation-bride because she believes she owes more than gratitude for the kindness she's been shown.
What has struck me about this scene since I sat down to write the song is the comment the Field Mouse makes to her: that all of their days will be brighter underground because they'll have Thumbelina's beautiful voice to listen to. She is now responsible for making their lives better.
As a person who has become a professional musician, who used to perform in bars, who fights with the darkness of mental illness and the lingering effects of childhood trauma, this strikes right to my heart.
I have learned the bardic art of performance. I can channel the emotions the song requires for the sake of the song and those hearing it. Regardless of the maelstrom that may be swirling behind my smile. This is part of what it means to be a professional.
But the cost is high. A cost the Field Mouse neither understands nor values. And everything in me FEELS for Thumbelina, trapped as much by the duty she feels to stay as any fear of the consequences of leaving.
I remember sitting at my now-lost Heintzman piano by the window, watching the fallen leaves skitter on the autumn wind and the chorus motif wrote itself. It's another one of my favourites.