There are songs that I fall in love with and forget about, only to come back to them after a while and wonder how I managed to forget about them. But every so often, I come upon a song that I love so much that listening to it for the first time in a while is like coming home.
This—fittingly enough—is the sensation I get anytime that I go any significant amount of time without listening to “Home” by Vanessa Carlton, which is one of my absolute favorite songs. Admittedly a bit late to the party, I discovered the song from her 2008 album Heroes & Thieves last year when I (finally) looked into Carlton’s discography beyond her debut release, Be Not Nobody. At the end of every year, I make a “personal music chart” of sorts and order my top 100 songs of the year, and last year, “Home” topped that chart.
Yet after a year and four months of listening to “Home,” there’s a magical, soothing quality to it that never ceases to blow me away no matter how many times I listen to it, a quality that makes listening to the song feel comforting and familiar even if you’ve never heard it before. It’s in the soft piano intro, the intensifying vocals and chords during the choruses, the flowing strings backing it all, and the soft bridge that brings back the opening piano riff and builds in volume before a false end. But most of all, it’s in the minute and a half of the song after the false end, the powerful piano solo that closes off the whole song, subtly backed by the soft, distant tolling of bells and intensifying in what I can only describe as the auditory equivalent of coming home.
I can listen to the entire song in complete awe and enjoyment without ever focusing on the lyrics—an unusual quality for me in a song—but by no means should you take this as an indication that the lyrics don’t seamlessly blend with the homecoming atmosphere. In the verses, Carlton sings of people who are granted beautiful things and search the whole world over, but lack something that truly makes them feel safe and content; in the choruses, she speaks of herself and how she knows that she’s home with an unspecified person. But this most powerfully comes about in the bridge, as Carlton sings, “For me, it’s a glance / and the smile on your face / the touch of your hands / and an honest embrace,” with “it” being the sense of home. Others, she says, can’t find it in their house on a hill, or by sailing over ocean depths; but she’s found it in these incredibly simple things that this other person has to offer her.
I don’t often talk about my absolute favorite songs on here (though by no means is that comment meant to devalue my love for any music I write about on here) because I find it very difficult; it always feels like a special occasion has to be in order to do it, and there’s an extra burden to convey what about the song I find so special. But the resurgence of my love for this song (which admittedly had hardly faded in the first place) over the past week felt like a good enough catalyst to justify explaining why “Home” is a song that I wish everyone would listen to at least once.