On my shoulder
Please just leave me alone
Time goes flying
Past my window
Try to get through the night
Of the future
They won’t leave me alone
So much riding
On my shoulders
I can’t let you all down
© 2022 Andrew J Stenehjem (ASCAP)
Acoustic Brooklyn Version Lyric Video
The way that this song came to me was different from most of the others and it’s something I’d like to pursue more of. It was more an exercise in trying to process what I was feeling than it was an attempt to write a song. I didn’t plan on sharing this song with anyone originally for the same reason that I’m hesitant to share the background that follows: because it’s about a part of me that I generally try to keep to myself. However, I’ve decided to share the song and the background because a big part of why I’ve decided to start sharing music is so that I can be more authentically myself, and that includes the parts of me that I usually keep hidden from view.
The version of me that most people see is someone who is positive, good humored, even-keeled and grounded. I have to feel pretty comfortable with someone to let them see a more complete picture of what’s going on inside my mind. Although I didn’t realize it until fairly recently, I’ve struggled with stress and anxiety for most of my life. As a naturally introverted person who seeks solitude and who has a constantly running internal monologue (or dialogue at times), worries can snowball in my mind.
As a teenager, I’d regularly have night terrors where I’d semi-wake in a panic, not knowing where I was and think I was trapped. I’d frantically feel around the wall until I found the door and opened it to help me realize where I was.
I put a lot of pressure on myself and am constantly fighting the voice in my head that tells me that I need to do more, do better, be better. I wasn’t aware of the extent of this until a couple years ago, when I called a counseling hotline because I’d spent a sleepless night unable to get out of a cycle of anxiety and stress that I was feeling. After telling her what I was thinking for a few minutes, she stopped me and said, “I’ve only heard you talk for a few minutes, but I can already tell that you put an extreme amount of pressure on yourself”. That realization hit me hard.
In high school, I had a student teacher who was friends with my cousin. He said to my cousin, “I think most people see Andrew as a happy-go-lucky guy but there’s a lot more going on underneath that”. I appreciated hearing that because it felt like someone finally saw beyond the surface level.
I think it’s interesting that the music that I felt most comfortable sharing first (the album) either avoided digging too deep into my own emotions or coupled these themes with happy-go-lucky music. In some ways, that mirrors my approach with people; you have to get to know me well before you’re able to see what’s going on beneath the surface. This song, “Mr Bluebird”, is an opportunity to show people what I haven’t often let others see.
I wrote, performed, recorded and mixed this song by myself in my 104 year-old house. I created the lyric video (below) using my daughter's chalkboard (along with digital imaging and filmmaking software). I also recorded a version of the vocals and piano in Brooklyn on March 13, 2020, which was a significant turning point in the Covid-19 pandemic, and there is a separate "Acoustic Brooklyn Version" with these parts.