Fourteen years ago I was contacted to see if I would be interested in writing a song for a new ABC television show that was in production in Los Angeles but hadn’t yet begun airing. I was just coming off my most commercially successful album ever (Become What You Are) and my name was kind of out there – even L.A. TV people knew who I was.(!) The show was called “My So-Called Life” and it was centered around a smart, moody teenaged character named Angela, played by an unknown 15-year-old actress named Claire Danes whom everyone involved with the show was saying was amazingly talented and was gonna be a big star. They sent me a videotape of the handful of episodes of the show that had been filmed so far so I could get a feel for what it was all about, and then decide if I wanted to get involved and contribute a song.

I loved the show, thought it was really cool. It wasn’t the typical teen series drama. It was darker, more nuanced, its characters more realistic and complex; not oversimplified caricatures that were either bad or good, hero or villain, and nothing in between. And I identified with the Angela character. She reminded me of myself at her age.

So I went to Los Angeles (or maybe I was there already – my memory is hazy) to meet with people from the show, to talk about exactly what they wanted from me. What they needed was a song for their Christmas episode. It would be sung by the character of a homeless teen whom Angela encounters – a girl who turns out in the end of the episode to be an angel – the ghost of a homeless girl who had died. They gave me a copy of the script to read.

The song would need to be mournful but also kind of uplifting, somehow; to express the angel character’s tragic circumstances and ultimate end, but also the spirit of Christmas – rebirth, hope, love, compassion and all that jazz. The TV people mentioned Joni Mitchell’s “River,” in which Joni borrows part of the melody of “Jingle Bells” and puts it over minor chords to very poignant, moving effect. They wanted me to use this song as a guide – an idea from which to start. Did I think I could give them something like that? Something that was mine – my own distinctive voice – but composed using their guidelines.

I was game. I thought it would be a fun exercise. To be given a task with a blueprint was, for me, exciting and challenging, and also a bit of a relief. Having rules or limitations can be very liberating just as having total freedom to do whatever you want, however you want, can be sort of paralyzing. It’s hard to know where to start, sometimes, when absolutely everything is available to you. Too many choices can make it hard to make decisions.

juliana hatfield fala sobre “my so called life” em seu blog

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