On a rainy day in the midst of exhausting sexual harrassment news, we needed a song with some ethical fire. The song What About Us?, by Pink, has been all over the radio, but we hadn’t listened carefully to the words ’til Pink was on NPR, having a frank conversation with Michel Martin about the state of US politics. What About Us? is all about the past year.
Here’s an excerpt of what Pink had to say (full transcript here):
Martin: I heard this song cold, like knowing nothing about it. And I’m thinking, boy, this could be about a relationship. This could be about a family. And this could certainly be about what’s happening more broadly. So without kind of ruining it for people who are just hearing it for the first time, do you mind if I ask, what were you thinking about when you wrote this?
Pink: I think that’s so interesting. I played this for one of my girlfriends a while ago. And she said, oh, my goodness, the way you write about your relationship and your love, and to me, that’s love. And I thought in the back of my head because that’s, for me—I’ll tell you what I wrote it about—but at that moment, I was like, wow, you should never tell somebody what a song is about because I never want to take away their meaning.
The place I was coming from was just sort of I just feel like we’ve been failed by our government and that we have this very dysfunctional relationship. And that government in general has a dysfunctional relationship within itself. And, you know, I grew up listening to my mom and dad argue, and it just feels like that. And there’s a lot of people that feel forgotten and invisible and are being made to feel less than and unwanted and unloved. And it hurts my heart. And so I have a pen, and I write. I write about that.
Also worth the listen: Pink’s full interview with Martin.