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Irish Musician & Singer-Songwriter, London, UK
  • Emily Coates

From Below

Back in 2003 I was living in London, close to Tower Bridge.

The American illusionist and endurance artist David Blaine began his “Above the Below” experience in September of that year. I watched as he went into a Plexiglass box by Tower Bridge, and I was there among the crowd when he came out of the box 44 days later. I used to pass him by every day on my way to and from work, and I visited him from time to time.

I was inspired to write a song back then as an “on the ground” observer. I never shared it outside of a few select people. Yesterday I was listening to my iPod when it came on quite unexpectedly. I hadn’t listened to it in a long time, almost forgetting its existence. It struck me that this was a song I wanted to release. They say timing is everything, and while a lot of time has passed since the source of the song’s inspiration, and its subsequent conception, the expressed sentiment remains timeless.

I remember being really impacted at that time, knowing there was a man suspended in a box without any food, a couple of minutes away from me. I wondered what he was thinking and feeling, what his experience was like. I found myself waking up some days wondering if he was okay, or how he had passed through the night. I wondered what experiences of life led to his decision to complete this feat, and I contemplated on how life expresses itself in some intriguing and wonderful ways.

While it is very easy for an observer to sit and judge that which they don’t understand, to demean or dismiss the work of those who “dare to bare” themselves publicly, it is far more difficult to look within oneself and ask why these negative reactions arise in the first place. I often wish it wasn’t so challenging for us as a species, to be accepting and supportive of that which makes absolutely no sense to us whatsoever.

Therefore I am always inspired by those who have the confidence and courage to follow their artistic impulses – no matter what form it takes. It is wonderful to see people challenge themselves, and face their fears, while pushing the envelope past normal societal practices or conventions. Something inside me comes alive when I witness such an unfolding, and I remember becoming very aware of my own restraints, while paradoxically feeling a huge internal pull to push through my own fears and limitations. There was a sense for me of reaching for the limitless human potential, and an awareness of how far I personally had yet to go.

These feelings are still with me today – I believe they will always be relevant – and now at this time in my life, this song serves to show me how far I have actually come, while still knowing there is much further for me to go.

“From Below” is one of many songs I plan to rework over the coming year. I’m usually not comfortable sharing something I don’t deem “perfect”, but that is exactly my challenge in sharing this song now.  So I offer it in its current form, and I hope you find enjoyment in listening. If it makes an impression, I would ask you to share it with your network of friends, family and loved ones, in the hope that a chain of inspiration is passed along.