Sharon Van Etten has released “Not Myself,” a song written for the victims of the Orlando shooting at Pulse nightclub’s Latin Night on June 12, 2016. Beyond its topicality and elegiac tone, the song itself was made with the aim of contributing to actual change, with proceeds going to the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, which is a “movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities.” (Currently, key goals include “fighting on the frontlines to defeat the NRA and Donald Trump’s dangerous campaign.”)
The song is minimal and steadily piano-led, with Van Etten’s vocals solemn and suspended as she sings, “Run away with me in July/To the same place and be ourselves/In the ashes of the aftermath, pray,” over her own multilayered, muffled hum, until she plunges towards some cathartically sad high notes. She’s sparing with these moments of catharsis, though, and doesn’t relish the power of her voice enough to overwhelm the nature of the song as tribute.
Of the release, Van Etten wrote on Facebook:
I was home with my parents in New Jersey when I heard of the shooting at the nightclub in Florida. Hate, violence, and intolerance has always upset me, but I haven’t been this overwhelmed with sadness and disbelief in a long time. The victims were only trying to be themselves and be comfortable and safe in their surroundings. That safety was violated out of fear and with a gun…I originally wanted to raise money for the victims and their families, but I knew the issue was bigger than this. I wrote “Not Myself” for the victims of this horrific event, but I chose to support the research and awareness work of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund…In the memory of those trying to be safe and be themselves, I hope we can all come together to help prevent another massacre like this and end gun violence.
Purchase the song/donate here. Listen: