The idea of being damaged goods is one of the many things that we can pick up along our path in life. Cliffs & Caves, a mother-daughter duo from Texas, tackle this idea in their track “Sea Glass”.
Beginning with a calm wave of string instruments, simple guitar picking, and a steady, slow drum beat, the percussion reminds me of the soft pat on your shoulder that you feel when you’re in need of consoling.
In tune with this act of consoling, our vocalist comes down to earth with us and empathizes, saying how they know it can feel getting lost in rough waters and feeling like you’ve lost yourself. They go on in further detail, saying how you’ve had to hold your breath to make it this far, and even though you’re alive, you’re left with nearly nothing, save for your own life that you hardly even recognize. You feel like nothing really mattered anyways.
The strings slowly add more tension and understanding before coming into the refrain, now filled with a shaker and drum beat that’s like a slowly beating heart as the vocalist reassures you by comparing you to sea glass:
You’re just like sea glass
and there’s sunshine
in your shade of blue
and you might feel downcast
Genuine sea glass is something that’s created through being rocked and thrown around the ocean for years. They’re shards of broken glass that have been whittled smooth, coming from things like broken bottles, broken tableware, and sometimes even shipwrecks. They’re essentially what we would consider to be garbage.
Despite their troubled start, they ultimately end up beautiful and smooth with a frosted appearance.
And just like sea glass, you’ve been through a lot. Maybe it’s been battling through the psychological scars of a rough childhood or an abusive relationship. Maybe it’s struggling with alcoholism or another vice that’s tried to take hold of you. Whatever it may be, it’s something that’s left you stranded in an ocean filled with driftwood, leaving swimming through the ocean to shore your only chance at survival.
Despite your troubled past, the vocalist still thinks you’re a treasure, and that they’ll put you in your pocket and keep you close to them. It’s a gentle reminder that anyone can be loved despite their past. People don’t deserve to be cast aside like an old newspaper just because of mistakes they’ve made or things they may be struggling with.
As the percussion fades to a gentler heartbeat and the strings become more active like the many voices we hear in our lives’ journey, Cliffs & Caves expands on this idea of transformation through troubled waters:
Weathered and worn
swept up in this troubling storm
but it’s softened every side
and made you so smooth
you’re not discarded
maybe you’re all that I ever wanted
I’ve been miles and miles searching
just for you
You couldn’t be found until you went through your own harrowing journey to find yourself. Maybe you had to take time seeing a therapist, righting some wrongs in your life, writing to reflect on yourself, or any combination of these or other things to get to where you are today. You’re here now, and while you might not feel like it was worth it, others can see the changes and work you’ve put into yourself. You’ve become a treasure that others value and respect.
The refrain is repeated, much like how messages of reassurance are something people often need to hear more than once. Past this, the song ends with a twinkle of piano notes and strings that sustain with vibrato before fading away, leaving it up to us to decide where to go next.
Maybe you’re still in the middle of this transition — it takes years to become true sea glass — but it’s a welcome reminder that we’re all constant works in progress. Don’t worry about the prickly sides you may have to your soul as they’ll become refined with time as you work on yourself.
And someone, be it an old friend, a potential love interest, or possibly even your own self, will find the treasure hidden inside.