Photo: Meredith Truax
Honesty is the key ingredient in the complex recipe that is singer-songwriter music. To quote the unparalleled Joni Mitchell, “The most important thing is to write in your own blood. I bare intimate feelings because people should know how other people feel.” This is a sentiment that budding New Jersey songwriter Jeremy Zucker has taken to heart, especially in his most recent single, “oh, mexico.”
Zucker’s latest is a narrative that describes the feeling of being unsatisfied with the status quo and wishing to escape from the gloom. In an arrangement that is both underplayed and bold, dreamy guitar morphs seamlessly into muted electric piano while the singer delivers a melancholic anecdote detailing the frustration that comes with feeling stuck, singing lyrics like “No I don’t feel the same / The lack of chemicals in my brain / Won’t keep more warm, so I’ll pause and pray / I don’t wanna feel the cold, so I’m going to Mexico.” At the end of the piece, the song draws upon all of its sonic elements to generate a massive wave of sound that seems like it’s signaling change is on the horizon.
Much like Joni Mitchell, Zucker places immense importance on conveying his personal truths through his music. On the subject, he details,
“The mindset that drove me to write was how progressive my school was in making discussions of mental illness an open conversation. People were always talking about their anxiety, their depression, their medication. That was new to me, I guess. In high school if someone was on anti-depressants or suffered from some form of a mental illness, they would almost be shunned. Like, ‘We don’t talk about that’ or ‘We don’t hang around people like that.’ That to me was so crazy and so cruel. It was so tough for me to be in an environment where people viewed people with mental illness like that because if I had periods in middle school or high school when I wasn’t feeling great, I was afraid to say I was depressed or had anxiety.”
It’s not always easy, but the best songwriting comes from a place of truth. Jeremy Zucker’s sophomore EP summer comes out later this year, but for now reflect on the importance your personal journey with “oh, mexico” here: