We Can Breathe

I had a friend I loved to be with
And that friend loved me
One day we had a disagreement 
We were both so angry
I knew I was right about it
I told my friend to leave
I didn't really want to my friend to go
But friends don't disagree...
How can friends disagree?

I can breathe and close my eyes
Look for a way to empathize
If you and I can't compromise
Then we can let it be.
We can let it be.

I always thought I was really smart
I still think I am
But every time I speak my mind
Seems like someone else has the plan
Sometimes I feel ignored
Like I'm not even here
I get so mad I want to shout 'em down
Is that the only way they'll hear?
Do I have to shout for them to hear?

I can breathe and close my eyes
Look for a way to empathize
If you and I can't compromise
Then we can let it be.
We can let it be.


Sometimes I watch the news
Seems like the bad ones win and the good ones lose‚
So many things to be angry about
So many things we can't work out,
But we can we can breathe, oh, oh we can breathe
We can all still breathe.

(instrumental verse)

I can breathe and close my eyes
Imagine a field of butterflies
Go to a place with sunny skies
I carry it with me‚ that's no lie
Cause when I feel my heart speed up
My ears get hot and my voice get rough
I can settle my body down
From the tip of my head down to the ground
Though being angry's just part of life
I don't have to grow it giant-size
You and I can empathize
We can let it be.
Oh, oh We can let it be.
We can both just breathe my friend,
Oh we can both just breathe
Yes, we can both just breathe my friend


On that we can agree.

IMG_1084 8.jpg

"We Can Breath" began simply as a song about how to deal with angry emotions through a focus on breathing-- a calming mechanism anyone can use-- young, old or in-between!

Pretty soon, we realized that "We Can Breath" is ALSO about how to deal with others better when we disagree... how to stop and consider another person's perspective-- or at least to stop for a moment and realize that this other person has experienced things differently than I have, and that they may have some insight or understanding that I don't yet possess.

Once the song was written, and it became clear that the title needed to be "We Can Breathe" we then realized how powerfully this song, and it's ideas about empathy and pausing to understand others who see things differently, connected with all the important conversations happening around a very similar and tragic phrase, "I Can't Breathe" uttered by not only George Floyd as he was dying on the pavement of Minneapolis, but also by Eric Garner as he was dying on a sidewalk in NYC... and uttered in at least 68 other similar cases you can find out about here.

This song didn't set out to address the issues of the misuse of power to destroy the lives of People of Color, but as this single is released, the murder trial against officer Derek Chauvin is just getting underway. However you feel about Black Lives Matter, or about the national discussion concerning police brutality, systemic inequity and America's "school to prison pipeline," we can all agree that a basic unifying right of ALL humans is our right to breathe. 

In so many cases, if more breathing and less reaction had occurred, many lives would have been saved. We can begin that preemptively by helping our children and grandchildren breathe before lashing out in anger... before jumping to judge others harshly. This is a simple kids' song, but it is not intended to oversimplify the very troubling and deep-rooted issues of inequity that continue to plague our nation. Solving those problems will be complex and challenging... but breathing together is a very good place to start that work.

© 2020 Scott Simpson