Every now and then a song comes along that resonates with you in an almost uncomfortably spot-on way. The lyrics feel as if they could have been written about you, or at the very least, by you. It practically reaches out and grabs you with its accuracy, pinning you in place with an echoing familiarity. Jared Saltiel’s “Still Tired” was one of those songs for me, right from the very first verse.
“You could’ve been anything you wanted to / You always knew how to follow the rules / When you’re a kid nothing’s really up to you / So you bruised your feet in your ballet shoes”
As an anxiety-ridden child whose life preserver was the consistency and order provided by rules (not to mention a ghostly pale ex-dancer with a penchant for bruises) it is not difficult to see why this song immediately grabbed me. Saltiel’s deeper meaning extends beyond just the eerie similarities that clung so quickly to me, though, reaching to a place that is familiar of human existence. Led by the gentle and consistent strumming of acoustic guitar, his lightly layered vocals are left to take centerstage.
“You’re in your prime / You’ve still got time / To make your own plan / So rest while you can”
He beautifully pinpoints the place of confused burnout and uncertainty that is found teetering on the edge of choice, especially when you are young and facing the decision of what to make of your life. It’s the uncertainty of having to make your own decisions, weighing the benefits of one lost when the other is chosen. As he ever-so-slightly draws out each word before pulling to the next, he crafts a feeling of heavily drudging forward with this simple technique. This feeling of leaden emotional weight is effortlessly blended with moments of a comfortable sense of understanding.
“In the morning light, when you wake / Don’t be afraid if you still feel the weight / Because everybody’s got a cross to bear / But you’re stronger than you fear”
What I find so compelling about Saltiel’s writing style, and which is clearly apparent in this verse, is the overall lack of sugar-coating found within the lyrics. He deftly acknowledges that the weight of the choices we make are near impossible to avoid; the burdens we carry are direct results of the choices we make. What could quickly turn dark and dismal, though, is lifted by the way he creates a sense of strength in togetherness. Although we are alone in the individual burdens we carry, that others must carry their own is a welcome reminder.
“It’s nighttime and you’re still tired, girl / It’s nighttime and you’re still tired, girl / It’s no wonder you’re still tired, girl / It’s nighttime and you’re still tired”
As the song is entering its final verse and carrying on the chorus, a subtle drum beat filters in to lift the tone and brings the vocals with it. Never straying from the core of understanding, the message remains as the arrangement lifts. A welcome reminder that although life is hard, it’s hard together, Saltiel’s “Still Tired” is a poignant and understated reminder to persevere.