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Sharon Van Etten Reveals She Wants To Become A Therapist,… Just Not To Us



Sharon Van Etten’s new album, ‘Are We There’ is streaming on iTunes Radio, and the first notes of the first song ‘Afraid of Nothing’ plunges you in Sharon’s very recognizable universe of heartbreaks, pain and strength. Her crystalline voice is as agile as ever and ventures through the complexity of love… ‘I Love You But I’m Lost’ is a title of one of the songs, and I got a bit sad while listening to all these songs. It’s her fourth album and it is always interesting to hear about the album by the artist, before its official released via Jagjaguwar on May 27th, that’s why I read her interview with Flavorwire, which was published last Thursday.

The lyrics of her new song ‘Your Love Is Killing Me’ have never been so dramatic, flirting with masochism and honestly weird territories: ‘Break my legs so I can’t walk to you/ Cut my tongue so I can’t talk to you/ Burn my skin so I can’t feel you/ Stab my eyes so I can’t see.’ Something so tough and raw had to be very personal and Sharon explains she wrote it at a very precise moment of her life: ‘I wrote this song when I had to make a tough call to make. I had promised my boyfriend at the time that I was going to be home after touring for a year, and then I got asked to support Nick Cave during the time when I promised I would be off the road. I took the tour, and it brought up a lot between us — about my career being more important. It was either our relationship or my career, and there was no balancing act because I’m gone nine months out of the year.’

I get it, being a touring artist has to be very hard, and I guess Sharon chose the career for now? But the Nick Cave association is interesting, and she took some inspiration on the road: ‘A lot of the songs that Nick Cave has written are very brutal but very beautiful. I think being out on the road with him, it rubbed off on me a little bit because I had all this aggression and I didn’t know how to deal with it. Love can be masochistic, and combined with the path that I’ve chosen with music, it can be sadistic. I write all these love songs, but in a certain way I’m sabotaging my real life by pursuing them.’

Indeed, is the artist the eternal sacrificed and suffering being, Sharon sure perpetuates the myth more than ever as these new songs are ‘probably the most raw and intense I’ve ever been’… She has to be careful at this dangerous game, and the rest of the interview shows how involved into her art she is, ‘It is so hard, and it’s a really weird thing to do. I’m beginning to realize what’s more important to me, and I have a lot to think about. I had to end a ten-year relationship because it was too hard to do music and have that. I think it’s a real issue, especially for women. I hate to say it, I just feel like we have to think about having a life and having a family more. We have a limit. I’m in my 30s, and I have no idea what I want to do. I’m doing something that I know people would kill to be in my position, and it’s freaking me out. You make your bed, and you just hope that it’s for something bigger than you.’

I want to say, don’t sacrifice everything Sharon, if they care enough, your fans will understand and will never ask for this much! But she has an idea, an idea about doing something else than music? Yes, she really means it: ‘I’m ready. I already have a plan. If I decide to stop doing music, I want to go back to school to become a therapist. I seriously want to do that, but right now I can’t. I have to start from scratch because I dropped out. It’s been — shit — eight to ten years since I tried going to school. So I’d be a freshman, but I’m kind of down for that! Now that I feel like I know what I want to do, I think I would love school.’ She has been in therapy herself for 12 years, she says later in the interview, and this has saved her. So she really thinks she could help people like her: ‘Really creative minds have a hard time communicating, but they also end up feeling really alone and isolated. I feel like I would have a really alternative background for kids to relate to if they’re feeling alone.’

And you have it, Sharon will hit the wall one day, and will go back to school to become a therapist. May be.

Fortunately, not everything on this album had to be taken too seriously, like this line in ‘Every Time The Sun Comes Up’: ‘I wash your dishes but then I shit in your bathroom’,…. Well it was just a joking idea, emerging after a day in a small studio where dishes have to be washed in the bathroom,… ‘The band ended up convincing me to keep the line by being like, “People think you’re this dark, brooding girl, and this will just raise the veil a little bit and show them that you’re kind of a goofball, that you curse sometimes, that you’re having fun, that you’re doing just fine. Let people know you’re OK, Sharon!” And I am!’ Sure, but I had interpreted it totally differently, I thought it was about a girl’s revenge trapped in a bad relationship, silly me! In the interview, you also learn that Sharon is called one-hit wonder by her friends because she can only take one hit of weed, otherwise she gets ‘real space cadet and DJ for hours’ or gets ‘really paranoid’ and starts ‘thinking that every time somebody says something, it’s about me.’ One last thing, she managed to use rock star pianos on this new album: Patti Smith’s ‘Horses’ and John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ pianos. I don’t believe a minute she will give up all this to become a therapist, but if you want to ask her another question she will be on reddit this Tuesday (5/27) at 12:30pm ET:




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