Loss, death, grief, despair…These are but some of the places that we fear the most. They’re the places we’re programmed to avoid, both in thought and discourse. “Don’t talk about death!” we’re told. “It’s too depressing.” The inescapable irony of this is in the sprawling spectrum of human experience, it’s these so-called depressing topics, these places we fear the most, that are the ultimate unifiers. If there’s one guarantee in life, it’s that we will at one point find ourselves in one – if not all – of these places.
But in a society that teaches us that death is scary, horrifying and not to be discussed, we hardly have the cognitive tools required to navigate them. Loss, death, grief, despair are things we need to talk about more; in all their forms. For his latest track, ‘Papa’, a stirring homage to his late father, Australia’s own JJ Peters has done just that.
“This was hugely difficult to make.” JJ tells Blunt ahead of the tracks official Friday, 16th October release. “It made me face my grief head on every time I attempted to write or record it, but it was extremely cathartic to get it out of me and into song, where I express my feelings best. The hardest part was showing my family, you only get one shot at a song like this, thankfully they all loved it. It brought them all to tears, but it helped them all heal a little in different ways… that was the most important part for me.”
In the most personal and dear diary-esque offering of his career so far, JJ uses ‘Papa’ as an opportunity to speak directly to his late father, Hans Josef Peters, who would have celebrated his 84th birthday on this very day. Recalling nights on the cognac together, smoking cigs and laughing the time away, ‘Papa’ punches you right in the gut with its touching references to the bond between father and son. JJ also uses the opportunity to reminisce on his father’s character, shaped by war, hard work and family.
While it may be a sad topic, ‘Papa’ certainly isn’t a sad song. For that reason, the aforementioned punch packs even more follow through.
So, let us sit in grief for a moment, together – hear what it sounds like and what it has to say. Then, let’s put it in our pockets so the next time that grief taps us on the shoulder, we’ve got an edge on it.