No One Knows Me

BLOG POST: No One Knows Me Like The Piano In My Mother's Home

I don't think I would categorize myself as an emotional person. To open this blog post the way I've decided to and to share this particular story with you is A LOT for me. I've never been a huge crier but I'm sure I've shed a tear every once in a while. I've held back liquid sadness here and there on extreme occasions. I'm human. But I've only ever wept twice in my life.

The first time was when my mother passed away. It is unequivocally the saddest moment of my entire life. I g'ed up in the hospital as we sat by her bed. I gave my family huge hugs. I choked up a little when I called my close friends and shared the news with them. I was slightly teary-eyed when I sat on my parents' couch and my older brother told me everything was going to be okay. For the majority of the day, even though the news was tumultuous, my pupils hadn't watered much. After everyone had left the house or had gone to sleep, I went into the basement where my parents keep my very first acoustic piano and started to play.

I sat down and tinkered with an arrangement I was working on, a classical piano rendition of Kanye's "Bound 2" mashed up with Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble". It's a beautiful thing, how well the songs fit together although their personalities don't at all. Right when the arrangement starts to shift, I lost it. I let it all out, tears hitting my hands and the keys and all. I continued to play and weep for hours, playing everything I had ever played in my entire life. Video game soundtracks, concertos I never bothered to pay a teacher to truly learn, early 2000's hip-hop piano reductions, and anything in between. My mom loved when I played in the house so I played in hopes she was still listening.

Fast-forward to about a month ago. Sampha, famous for his work on Drake's "Too Much" and more famous for his work on Solange's "Don't Touch My Hair", released a song called "(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano". I still don't know much about this guy, except for that those songs are my favorite songs from both of those artists. I don't remember exactly, because of all the crying that took place, but I'm fairly certain I became emotional just reading article about it. Sampha, like me, had lost his mother to cancer. Sampha, like me, had moved in with his mother to be with her in her final months. Sampha, like me, had written a song about her before she passed. So I was alllllll the way in my feelings before I even hit play.

Some singers have a certain break in their voice that accesses emotions differently than others. It creates a certain rawness that exceeds any type of vocal training. You can emote as much as you want, but there's something that can be heavenly about when a singer's vocal cords don't come together properly in the right moment. I got the same feeling towards the end of Nothing Was The Same but this time it was personal. And it WRECKED me. The first verse states:
"No one knows me like the piano in my mother's home

You would show me I had something some people call a soul

And you dropped out the sky, oh you arrived when I was three years old

No one knows me like the piano in my mother's home"
Not everyone knows how often I've played piano over the past 20+ years or so. And even fewer people know just how near and dear it is to me. My relationship with that piano sitting a basement in Gainesville, Virginia is unlike any I've ever had. I've told it secrets I've told no one else. I've written songs on it a handful of people have heard. I've shared versions of myself with it that few have seen before. Even in its shoddy shape, I've given that thing more love than I've given anything else. No one knows me like the piano in my mother's home.

Happy Birthday Mom. I miss you.

A video posted by JDVBBS (@jdvbbs) on

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