With every new, solid single, the buzz around the yet-to-be-released album from The Long War grows louder and more intense. This definitely includes the Vancouver band’s most recent release, “Once in a Lifetime,” a melancholic ballad that really showcases lead singer Jarrett Lee’s vocal and emotive range – it’s the second single from their sophomore album, Under a Heavy Sky, coming out in April 2021. Vancouver Weekly spoke to Lee about this deeply personal song.
What inspired this song? Is it about loss?
It’s about the power of love and the pain of a mutually agreed separation. It’s the realization that something very real and special that you’ve nurtured can no longer continue. I wrote the song immediately following a break-up. This person and I were continuously working through some heavy, theological differences and we could never quite resolve them. There’s some lyrics in there that hint at this, but it’s deeply personal and I wanted the song to somehow be universal. Music is always open to interpretation, I can only hope someone relates emotionally and can attribute a song to their own personal story.
Does the song’s moodiness come from that reference to loss and pain?
It is really moody. I remember quite vividly writing it. I came home to a virtually empty apartment. You start to visualize the space that has been left where someone once stood. That they’d never walk through the door again. There were literally empty picture frames on the wall which subconsciously got me thinking about country music and how literal and moving it can be. I leaned into that a bit. Also, there’s really only one or two changes in the song which was intentional for the purpose of impact. I wanted to write something raw, musical, repetitive, and simple. The music is supposed to burn into memory much like the people that move you do. I love songs like that. I actually wrote, kneeled beside my bed with papers spread all about, and pieced it together that very same day I came home to this emptiness. I think you can feel that in the song.
What do you want listeners to take away from this song?
The timing of this song feels kind of perfect. It’s been a long year…seasons are changing and we’re all really feeling that. I hope people can lean into their emotions a little bit but also exercise some letting go. The meaning of a song for me changes over time. You write about a particular thing one moment but as you look back, your life almost certainly has changed along with your perspective – that song almost always takes on new meaning. It’s a cathartic process in the moment and after the moment has passed. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to express myself emotionally through songs for this reason. The fact that anyone listens and is moved in any way at all, gives me so much gratitude. So I hope listeners are able to unpack some of those feelings when they listen to “Once in a Lifetime” and use it as a tool to move forward toward the new beautiful experiences to come.