Every once in a while a musician comes around who changes your life and the way you go about existing in the world. I’m not quite sure how they do it (it must be magic), but in an instant they open your eyes and revitalize all the parts of you that had been fading away for so long. These special people are a rare few in the music industry, but you know them by the indescribable feeling you get every time you listen to the words they sing. This is my love story with one of these such artists, Florence + the Machine.
“You are flesh and blood, and you deserve to be loved and you deserve what you are given.”
This single line alone is my a-ha! moment from the How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful album. Each time I hear it I feel my skin tingle and my eyes tear up, and I suspect it will resonate with me permanently. I have never before received such a direct message from the Universe, a reminder of my unconditional worth. I deserve to be loved and I deserve what I am given — we all do. That is my first of many favorite things about Florence + the Machine: they draw on the human condition and its universal experiences.
It is surprisingly easy for me to explain what Florence Welch has done for me in the nearly six years that I have been listening to her music. She brings out an effortless confidence in me that courses through my veins like a winding river on a lazy summer day. The sound of her voice is sweet freedom and unabashed power and quiet comfort. Through her music, Florence has become my dear friend. Her records have saved me, enriched me, and carried me through life, and that is awesome to me.
It began with “Drumming Song.” A modern dance class at my studio performed a wild routine to the song during a past recital, and it absolutely stunned me. I was hypnotized by the primitive power and immensity of every beat and I knew I had to look up the song. This led me to the Lungs album and every FATM video that I could find on YouTube. Over the course of my middle school and high school years — trying times for every teenage girl — I always kept Florence close to me so her lyrics could serve as a reminder of the kind, patient, peaceful, mighty presence I wanted to put out into the world. Shortly after my grandmother died, my family went to the beach for a week. There, I did a lot of struggling and grieving, but I was not alone. It was Florence’s albums, the endless ocean, God, and me. That was a transformative time in my life, and I don’t know how I would have gotten through it without my favorite songstress.
I still cannot listen to “Shake It Out”, though, and that is my only regret. I remember having a moment of breakdown a few years ago while the song was playing and ever since then, something closes up inside when it comes on shuffle. I have to skip it. It breaks my heart that this glorious anthem has suffered from my tendency to deny myself happiness. Maybe one day I’ll be able to dance to it again and heed Florence’s call to let the light in. I hope so.
Still, I want to continue this on a positive note. I am beyond grateful for the things this band has done for me. Every time I glance at Flo’s glorious Instagram account I get a tickle in my throat and a smile on my face because I am reminded of who I want to be: a free spirited faerie girl whose aura projects light, confidence, and independence, but who also remains young at heart. FATM’s lyrics have taught me that it is okay to feel, to really feel all of the emotions on the spectrum of life, because that’s the only way to stay alive. I have learned the importance of a creative mind and an open heart in every situation. I’ve learned to wake up and count my blessings, from loved ones to the simple joy of coexisting with nature. I am much more honest with myself in my journey to let go of the pain that weighs me down. I cannot express all of the bigger and better ways I have grown as a woman, friend, and human being since the day I discovered FATM.
Florence + the Machine is holding hands with your best friend and skipping along a winding road to “You’ve Got the Love.” It is closing your eyes and feeling goosebumps on your skin as you envision a blazing sacrificial rite during “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up).” It is the internal connection you feel with some strange holiness as you listen to Ceremonials. It is the messy, truthful narrative of life that is told throughout How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful.
So there you have it, folks — the story of my passionate spiritual love affair with Florence Welch. I am planning my first tattoo right now and I’m almost certain that it will be related to the band I love so dearly. I can only hope that one day I get to see the Queen herself perform live in concert, because that will be the day all my dreams come true! Until then, I look forward to dancing down the paths of life with so many beautiful songs in my soul.
Thank you, Florence Welch. Thank you a million times over.
Stay free! xo
P.S. If you ever need to restore some of your faith in humanity, watch this incredible video of Florence singing to a young hospice patient. Grab a box of tissues.