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Behind the Story of Pink Walls: Singing the Ugly Truth about Domestic Violence

Updated: 6 days ago

Pink Walls, was one of the first songs I wrote in my songwriting class.


It wasn’t until a year later that I decided to release it into the world.


The opportunity came when I had to figure out my final project assignment in a video production course that I was taking.


With the skills I learnt in film production and editing, creating my very own short film with a narrative story was an exciting endeavor. Therefore, I thought a music video with this song would be the perfect learning opportunity.


Pink Walls, a soft rock, contemporary song that brings awareness on domestic violence

It still amazes me sometimes as to how I know when a song is completely finished, and ready to be shared.


When I wrote this song, I was really exploring an unhappy memory that a person might have experienced and wanting to paint over the wall to start fresh.


This imagery of painting over the wall, sparked an interesting series of ideas in my head.


I could have written about grief of losing a person.


I could have written about missing a loved one and all the memories made within the walls of a home.


For some reason, those themes didn’t come through as strongly as a story of abuse.


Abuse.


An ugly truth not talked about freely.


Things we don’t often see within the walls of a home.


Stories that are silently kept for fear of judgement.


Details that you have been taught not to reveal to anyone outside the walls of a home because it is private family matter.


While I cannot pinpoint the exact moment and details of how the writing started to unfold, I remember tapping into early memories of my own childhood and that was how I came up with the first verse:


When I was seven

The world within these walls was heaven

Father painted it pink with little daisies

Smiles kissed us like a summer breeze


In the second verse, this child is growing up and things start to change. I tapped into my memories of angry parents arguing and fighting in the home:


Then I was thirteen

There was always a terrible scene

Father saw red with all that we said

Frozen and afraid, I stared straight…


Then as I developed the chorus, I connected with a personal experience of helping two of my women friends who were victims of domestic violence.


They had young children. I remember clearly, empathizing with my friend as I listen to her cry on the phone.


But it was something she said that struck a chord in me. Her young son of only a few years old, used to be afraid whenever the violence happened at home.


At one point, the child then started accepting the violence in the home as normal, and started to behave like the perpetrator; acting the same violence towards her.


I think a piece of me shattered that day when I heard that story. Having young children of my own, I cannot imagine having to go through such a thing.


I started to think of children who have been through this trauma, even just witnessing a parent suffer the violence, and then carrying that burden into their adult years, how does it NOT affect them?


I tried to imagine myself as the victim child. I tried to see it from the perpetrator’s point of view.


I tapped into everything, pulling bits and pieces from my own childhood experiences of watching parents fight in the home, as well as the stories from my friends who were victims of domestic violence … to create this chorus:


…at the pink walls

I remember there was always a fight

I’m gonna paint the walls a pleasant white

I’m gonna paint and forget those nights

I recall

There was a villain in your mind

It was a dark cloud of raging pride

A heavy cloud I feel will now subside

at the end of these pink walls


In the 3rd verse, I decided to make it heavy. There was nothing left to hide:


Father, we became machines

Chairs flung, fists slammed, tearful yells and screams

You left us at these walls one night

Frozen and afraid, I fell right…


Like writing a story, songs have structure. And they are harder in my opinion to write around a certain structure and still be creative in the art of songwriting.


Imagine having to tell a story; to say what you want to say, in comparatively fewer words, be poetic and still balance the rhyme structures, figure out the melodic singing to go with it, and the create the harmony to support the melody.


And finally have it all come together as one whole thing and have an emotional impact.


It’s quite amazing, really.


I made one person cry when they listen to this song, and I only know about it because they told me.


I have learnt through this experience of writing, recording and releasing this song, that this is the true essence of making art.


 

“The walls of our home are so familiar and symbolize safety and comfort, but we don’t see what happens inside the walls of homes, these things aren’t talked about. I wanted to write a song from the child’s perspective who just wants to paint over the unhappiness and the memories and start fresh. I hope this song will bring a mood of hope and healing; an individual or communal release of weight that anyone may be carrying silently on their shoulders. Although sad, the song brings home a positive message of healing — we can let go of the past to find peace in our hearts.”

— Esther Ling


Pink Walls has been featured on CBC Radio, CKUA Radio, numerous independent radio stations and shows worldwide and has been used by women shelter organizations in US and Canada in domestic violence social media campaigns.


Click the button below to listen to Pink Walls.



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