As someone who is a fan of pop music, as well as someone who is interested in the music industry, I have long been a fan of American Idol. In being in Thailand, I have not been able to keep aware of the singers as well in the past couple of seasons, and I missed the competition completely this past year. When I was looking up an inspirational song that I felt had a lot of personal resonance to my own position (and probably that of many others), I found that the singer was the winner of this year’s season of American Idol, and this was his debut single after the show. It hit the top 10 on sales after Philip Philips won season 11 of American Idol, and then has returned again to the top 10 on airplay . With a pleasant Mumford & Sons sound, it is an inspiring song that I would never have thought to be the winner’s song for American Idol. And that is probably a good thing.
The song is straightforward lyrically–with a short chorus at the end of each verse and two verses, with the second verse repeated. Despite this very simple lyrical structure, the song does not feel particularly repetitive, and its slow delivery and excellent music combine to make it a heartfelt and reassuring song, and one that I find particularly meaningful for my own personal experience. It is my hope that others as well are inspired and comforted by the song, as I feel that a longing for home is somewhat common, and most of the times that musicians have addressed this longing, they have looked at it from the point of view of an artist on the road (“Lights” and “Faithfully” by Journey, for example, or “Home” by Michael Bublè), rather than the point of view of an ordinary person unconnected with the music industry.
The first verse of “Home” reads as follows: “Hold on to me as we go, / As we roll down this unfamiliar road, / And although this wave is stringing us along, / Just know you’re not alone, /Cause I’m going to make this place your home .” As might be expected, this song has at least two obvious layers of meaning. For one, as an American Idol coronation song, this verse is talking about the unfamiliar road of fame for obscure Americans, as American Idol contestants try to find comfort in each other and managers. He is riding the wave of fame as far as it goes, and seeking to make himself at home in the Hollywood scene. Good luck. While speaking to his own life as a newly famous singer, the song also speaks on another level as a concerned lover speaking to someone who is unsure and uncertain in a relationship, seeking to ride the wave of love and make a home together. Therefore the song is both focused on the level of a singer’s life as an American Idol winner as well as the life of others. And because the song works so well on both levels, it can be sung convincingly and also cheered on by audiences equally convincingly.
The second verse of the song (which is repeated twice) reads as follows: “Settle down, it’ll all be clear; / Don’t pay no mind to the demons, / They fill you with fear. /The trouble it might drag you down; / If you get lost, you can always be found. / Just know you’re not alone, / Cause I’m going to make this place your home.” This verse also speaks on two levels. On the level of a singer dealing with new-found fame, this is a singer telling himself to calm down, avoid the fears of failure and criticism, overcome the demons of insecurity that tend to lead to addictive and irresponsible behavior, and seek to find faith and comfort in knowing that they are not alone in their position. In the level of a relationship, this is someone singing to a partner telling them to calm down, overcome the demons of the past and the fears that come from those experiences, speaking to the comfort of faith and God’s mercy, as well as the fact that they are not alone struggling.
And it is that part of the song that speaks the most powerfully to me. I tend to ponder often on the widespread nature of suffering in this world and the fact that people tend to think of themselves as suffering alone, even though there are many millions in this world who can relate to us no matter what we have to deal with. Whether we are dealing with bad family histories, or difficult relationship histories, or the struggles of fame, someone can relate. We are never alone. And that is a very good thing. This song also speaks to my experience in being in an unfamiliar area, finding comfort in not being alone, and seeking to find home. I imagine I’m not alone in that either. The popularity of this song would seem to indicate that many others share this longing.