by Alison Bonaguro
Two Septembers ago feels like a lifetime, because of the unprecendented times we’re all living through, but for this brand new Sarah Buxton song, the year flew by.
Buxton wrote the song — “Little Bit Better” — with Tofer Brown and Abe Stoklasa, and she told CMT.com all about how it started and where it ultimately landed on her new six-song EP Signs of Life.
They wrote the tender ballad in Brown’s living room in September 2019, and it sounds like the song almost wrote itself. “It started with Tofer’s guitar part and then the melody came pretty quickly with the words. The verse and chorus fell out — and then we switched gears and wrote a totally crazy different song — and then came back and finished ’Little Bit Better.’ As a recovering empath, I feel other people’s feelings for them sometimes,” Buxton explained, “and this is about someone very close to me that I wanted to ’help,’ but totally understood that I can’t do the work for them. But that just holding space for them might make it all a little more bearable.”
She says the song isn’t about asking for anyone to change, but more about simply bearing witness to someone’s pain and suffering. “And knowing that for the most part, when we share those feelings with someone we love and trust, it can lessen the pain,” she said. “It’s about intimacy.”
Life is painful at times, she added, but together and with intimacy we can make this whole life experience more doable. “We can really turn someone’s life around by SEEING THEM and holding space for them. That is one way that healing can start,” she shared.
Buxton considers herself a creator, whether she is creating a song to sing herself or for another artist’s album. She enjoys sharing the creative process with others and always has, ever since she arrived in Nashville in the late 90s. “It is always an honor when someone asks me to join in their creative space,” she said, “I love singing harmony and I love writing songs. Just love it all. Thankful to be here.”
One of Buxton’s most well-known creations was when Keith Urban covered her song “Stupid Boy” in 2006 and it soared to the top of the charts and won him a Grammy.
Since then, Buxton has still been making music (because artists are always artists) but it had been simmering on the back burner while she was raising her children.
“I’ve always been creating, all of these years, but I think when I had kids, I made a shift that was unnecessarily closed off to my own artistic outlets as someone would perceive it in the public eye. All that is important to me now is just living my life in the fullest expression possible,” Buxton said of the new music she is releasing now. “I’m alive and creating, so why not share that with the world? Why keep it to myself?”
And in addition to the new music, Buxton has found a silver lining to life in this never-ending pandemic. Actually, she’s found a few.
“First of all, it’s given me a ’live like you were dying’ kind of energy. I kept realizing that what we were all struggling with was mortality,” she said of what’s been on her mind since the start of the quarantine. “Our own mortality and humanity’s mortality as a whole. How do I want to live my life if this is how we have to live from now on? Who do I want to fill up my days and nights with, and doing what? Kind of like an essential oil pulls the condensed fragrance from a flower or plant, the 2020 experience has pulled a more condensed and potent version of me out.
“Secondly, I changed my approach to parenting. I want my kids to experience freedom and spaciousness in their life, even though it feels like the world and time itself is speeding up. I have adapted myself and my children into a more minimal lifestyle that is full of nature, and put them in a school that is in alignment with that.
“Thirdly, I see our country and our homes really addressing some foundational issues that needed to be addressed to build a stronger and better future. The Black Lives Matter movement has been essential to healing our country of its racist past and I’m thankful to the courageous protestors who continue to show up in the name of equity and justice.
“Also, it was so nice to see how happy our city skies were when they were free of pollution. I imagine someday soon that we will make the shift into cleaner energy and finally have the wherewithal to show up for Planet Earth,” Buxton said, “the way she always shows up for us.”
Alison makes her living loving country music. She’s based in Chicago, but she’s always leaving her heart in Nashville.