When listeners first hear the new Jennifer Saran single "Let The Waves Wash Over Me (Song For Christine)," they will be transported by the singer's elegant and gorgeous phrasing over producer and co-writer Narada Michael Walden's impeccably lush bed of jazz-blues instrumentation. But as Saran points out, a second listen reveals the dramatic intention behind her lyrics. There is a message that she wants to convey to the public, and its time is "now."
"My agenda for the song is very simple: I want people to vote," she says. "This upcoming mid-term election is so crucial on so many levels, but it's especially important for women. I want to grab people's hearts with the beauty of the music, but when they listen again, they'll hear the words and they'll understand what I'm saying. Please vote. Please take action. It's within your power to change things."
Saran was inspired to write "Let the Waves Wash Over Me (Song for Christine)" during a phone conversation with her daughter, Anjali, in which they discussed how disgusted they were over the recent Senate confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, and the appalling treatment of Christine Blasey Ford. As Saran recalls, "I said to Anjali, 'I just wish there was something I could do.' And she said, 'There is something you can do, Mum. You can write a song.' The minute she said that, I felt this incredible energy and said, 'You're right.'"
Seizing upon the concept, Saran wrote a set of lyrics and sent them to Narada Michael Walden, with whom she's collaborated on a number of albums over the years (the two are putting the finishing touches on a new record set for 2019). When the multiple Grammy and Emmy-winning producer read the words, he wrote a stirring melody to accompany them and sent the music back to Saran. "I kept listening to what Narada wrote, and that helped me to refine my lyrics to better fit the rhyme to his melody," she says. "That was all I needed to complete the song. We've always worked so well together in that way."
When writing the words "I fought him off / I cried out, no one came / I live with the shame," Saran channeled the striking testimony of Dr. Ford. "For me, Christine has become such a symbol of confronting sexual abuse," she says. "She had to tell her story to make a point. People don't speak up because they're ashamed, or they think that nobody will believe them. So I found myself thinking about Christine in my lyrics. I tried to put myself in her place."
For his part, Walden says that he was profoundly moved by Saran's message. "I'm a heart person," he says. "When I read her lyrics – 'It's time for a change / vote them out, in my name / let the waves wash over me' – I was hit right in the chest. Jenn has an incredible talent for expressing herself. She knows what she wants to say, and she puts her feelings down on paper in an eloquent and unfiltered way. I was knocked out by the stunning beauty of her words."
At his own Tarpan Studios in San Rafael, California, Walden recorded bass, drums and keyboards by himself. Other musicians on the track include guitarist Jim Reitzel and percussionist James Henry, with horns provided by Rich Armstrong and Daniel Casares. Saran flew in to record her vocals on a Sunday night, and a day later they were finished. "Narada and I work very quickly and efficiently because we share a chemistry," she observes. "He's a brilliant and fabulous collaborator, and when we lock into an idea, the music just takes flight."
Walden agrees, saying, "That's what happens with the best songs – they come to you quickly because the passion and emotions are undeniable." He draws a parallel between "Let the Waves Over Me (Song for Christine)" and some of the protest music that was prevalent during the '60s and early '70s. "Musicians were writing about civil rights, taking what Dr. King was talking about and lending their voices to the cause," he says. "Or they were speaking out the same way that Muhammad Ali did about the Vietnam War. Here we are in 2018, and we have a different situation, but it's as important. We have to empower ourselves, and it's crucial everybody speaks out, including artists."
Saran is wasting no time in getting "Let the Waves Over Me (Song for Christine)" out to the public. "If they're going to rush through confirmation hearings, dismissing women as 'less than,' there's nothing wrong with us rushing out a song," she states. "I want radio stations playing it for people when they're on their way to work. I would love to see people on talk shows discussing it. I embrace anybody who wants to take this message to the people."
Although the song might strike some as being political, Saran insists that it's not a matter of choosing between Democrats or Republicans. "It's just about doing what is right," she says. "My mother raised me as a single mother, and she instilled certain values in me. So this song is for her, it's for Christine, for my daughter, and it's for all women out there – mothers, daughters, sisters and wives.
"I'll say it again," she concludes. "This is all about voting. When I saw those hearings, I said, 'This is not the country of my forefathers. This is not the America that people fought for. This is crazy time.' But we can change that if we really want to. I'm hoping that, in my own way, I can help bring about some change for the good of everyone."
For more information, please visit: http://jennifersaran.com/