What about us?

Listening for the currents of popular culture that serve as a prophetic word about the times in which we live, “What about us?” performed by P!nk, is a prayerful lament. Though the specific meaning behind this song is unclear, this is an example where the authors may have had different ideas about whom they address the haunting question.

More and more are songs like this making it to the fore in a world that has either forgotten God, or has been profoundly disappointed to not find Him on the broad way of destruction:

What About Us?

We are searchlights, we can see in the dark
We are rockets, pointed up at the stars
We are billions of beautiful hearts
And you sold us down the river too far

What about us?
What about all the times you said you had the answers?
What about us?
What about all the broken happy ever afters?
What about us?
What about all the plans that ended in disaster?
What about love? What about trust?
What about us?

We are problems that want to be solved
We are children that need to be loved
We were willin’, we came when you called
But man, you fooled us, enough is enough, oh

What about us?
What about all the times you said you had the answers?
What about us?
What about all the broken happy ever afters?
Oh, what about us?
What about all the plans that ended in disaster?
Oh, what about love? What about trust?
What about us?

Oh, what about us?
What about all the plans that ended in disaster?
What about love? What about trust?
What about us?

Sticks and stones, they may break these bones
But then I’ll be ready, are you ready?
It’s the start of us, waking up come on
Are you ready? I’ll be ready
I don’t want control, I want to let go
Are you ready? I’ll be ready
‘Cause now it’s time to let them know
We are ready, what about us?

What about us?
What about all the times you said you had the answers?
So what about us?
What about all the broken happy ever afters?
Oh, what about us?
What about all the plans that ended in disaster?
Oh, what about love? What about trust?
What about us?

What about us?
What about us?
What about us?
What about us?
What about us?
What about us?

Written by Alecia B. Moore, John Mcdaid, Steve Mac • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group. “What About Us” is the first single from P!nk’s seventh studio album Beautiful Trauma. The song was released on August 10th 2017.

This contemporary song carries a lingering theme of W.B. Yeats’ “The Circus Animals’ Desertion” circa 1937.


Here is an excerpt from the Billboard interview with one of the song collaborators, Johnny Mcdaid. Though he wouldn’t discuss the specific meaning behind the song, he described the “alchemy” behind its creation and explained to Billboard that the message was very much something that “revealed” itself over the collaborator’s time in the studio together.

McDaid: I have a thing that every songwriting session that I go into, it’s such a sacred space and I don’t ever think about what a song is for. It’s really just about allowing it to happen and be whatever it decides to be. It tells you, or tells the people that are there what it should be. If you go in with a kind of prescriptive attitude of, you know, ‘This is going to be or should be a single,’ then I think you probably limit its potential.

Do you have any other songs on the album?

This is the only one from the sessions that made it onto the album, but we wrote some other songs a few days prior to that, which I thought were really, really great and certainly the process was really important. Often that is the case, where no song that you write is a mistake and no song that you write isn’t important, because it alters everything you do after it…. So for me the fact that the other songs aren’t on the record, they were still important to have written, because we wouldn’t have gotten to ‘What About Us’ if we hadn’t written the ones before it.

So when you guys first getting together are you sharing influences, things you’re into, or is it just kind of understood you get in there and get to work?

The best kind of writing collaborations that I’ve done are always conversations that lead to a song. Bob Dylan once said that the song is in the room, when you walk in there, you just have to find it. You just have to put a butterfly net into the sky and pull down whatever comes and look at it and say, is this what I want to say? And I think this was very much one of those sessions. Alecia’s got so much to say and she says it really profoundly. So really it becomes a case of shepherding home whatever message reveals itself in the room. So we of course shared influences and a lot of stories and anecdotes and we talk about family and we talk about friends and we talk about our lives and then, out of that, comes an idea — it was already in her, it just needed to be revealed.

What can you tell me about those conversations that led to the song, or the meaning behind it? 

Explaining what a song is about is kind of a dangerous thing for me, because it takes away the possibility of a song becoming whatever it is to somebody that listens to it. From my perspective the creation of it is about looking into yourself, interacting. It’s like alchemy, you know, you interact with the person there in the room and you — these things, these ideas come out and what the ideas are for Alecia are probably different to even the person hearing it. And that’s the beauty of her, she really allows people to receive her music the way they do. She doesn’t take it personally. Whatever way they react to it, she has a very secure sense of self and writing with someone like that is a real joy…. Alecia doesn’t hold back. Her heart is so open, her heart is giant and it makes our life as collaborators not just easier, but really joyous.

And sometimes when you’re writing a song you don’t know what it’s about until it tells you. Often I’m involved in a songwriting session where I come away from it and I listen to it later and I think, ‘Wow, that was actually what was being said?’ Because I’m receiving it in a different context from where it was created.

About R.H. (Rusty) Foerger

As I enter the third third of life, I am becoming aware of the role of elders today “to enlarge spiritual vision, being devoted to prayer, living in the face of death, as a living curriculum of the Christian life” (Dr. James M. Houston). I am a life long and life wide learner who seeks to: *decipher the enigma of our worth *rescue from the agony of prayerlessness *integrate spiritual friendship.
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