Grace Pettis opens “Landon” with a spare a cappella first line before a propulsive down strum of her guitar drives the song into a cascading river of sound that palpably evokes the excruciating regret of betrayal and the redeeming power of love. “Landon,” which appears on Pettis’ MPress Records debut, Working Woman (out on May 7,) reveals its roots as a ballad in the slowly unfolding opening lines, but it quickly moves to a striding affirmation rising out of a sorrowful memory of condemnation, circling upward on the vibrantly passionate background vocals of the Indigo Girls to a fervent shout of love. In her pure, ringing voice, Pettis recalls a time when her fear stands in the way of not being there for her best friend when he came out in high school. She turns the mirror on herself as the lyrics spiral through all the reasons for her reluctance in accepting her best friend’s honest revelation of his gay identity: “I was afraid of that word/Afraid of all I’d heard/Afraid of that phone call/I was afraid I never knew you at all.” Her fear motivates her to call Landon a sinner, but she eventually recognizes that “Ain’t no sing bigger/Far as I can tell/No, there ain’t no hell/Much worse than the one I put you through/I knew nothing love, Landon.” Pettis’ emotionally moving song offers an apology, a plea for forgiveness, a recognition and acknowledgement of her past mistakes, and a declaration of her abiding love for her friend.
Pettis recalls, “I’ve been playing this song for a few years now as a ballad. So when Mary Bragg and I were in pre-production talks, dreaming up possibilities for the album, we weren’t sure what to do with this song at first. But we both agreed that it was too important to leave off the record. It’s probably the song I’m most proud of having written. It was Mary who came up with the idea of reimagining it more uptempo, with a classic rock and roll production. The first time the band tried it, it just clicked. The extra energy gave the song something new. Maybe a little more angst or determination? A little less resignation? Whatever it is, it worked. Mary and the band really helped me get there.”
She reflects, “I wrote ‘Landon’ for my gay best friend from high school. It’s an apology for not being the friend he deserved when he came out to me. Landon and I are close again now, thanks in part to the song. And we both love that it sheds a little light in the world for the next generation of gay kids growing up in the South, and for their best friends and families and all the people that love them. We hope it makes things just a little bit easier and clearer the next time around. To have the Indigo Girls adding their voices to Landon’s and my story now is overwhelming and deeply meaningful to me… it all just feels right, in a karmic and cosmic way. The whole thing brings me a lot of peace and joy.”
Pre-save “Landon” – HERE
Working Woman is available for pre-order – HERE