Dear Jesse McCartney,
I think I listen to your entire canon of music more than a self-respecting 21-year-old girl should. When I say “entire,” I mean ENTIRE — including the incredibly pop-ballady second studio album, both live CDs, and a smattering of Christmas songs, Disney covers, and others. I started listening to that playlist last night. You know, I have 5 hours and 26 minutes of your music. I don’t know, at this point, whether to call this dedication or obsession.
Anyways, the reason I’m writing is much like it was last time. In listening to your music, I just have begun to have thoughts about art, about growing up — the usual nostalgia that comes with listening to pop music. I think the first point I want to make is that, even if I should be grown up, my heart still longs for the beautiful soul type of romance — to be wanted that way. I think I can match a real-life situation with every one of your songs by now. There was a time that I used to imagine myself through those scenarios, usually with you as my co-star. Those days are over. (The ones of me dreaming that you’d come to CT and sweep me away into the world of music and film.) I don’t need to imagine most of the scenarios anymore. I can just remember. Longing, lust, heart break, knowing that you’re going home with the most attractive person in the room, just a crush, “i-wasn’t-the-one-who-broke-you,” moving on, I’m still here… the usual fare of a pop record.
At the beginning of my sophomore FWT, I wrote this:
Dear Jesse McCartney,
When you were thirteen and I was eleven, your life was what I wanted, my dream. It thrilled me that you and I shared the same dream. Well, you, me, and about sixty percent of the teenage world population. What was this dream? If I want to set this in a noble frame, I’d say it was to make music for music’s sake. It wasn’t about being in a band, traveling to new places, performing in front of a thousand people, and doing photo shoots for POPstar magazine. I used to save up my allowance so that I could buy that magazine and plaster all the pictures of you onto my wall. (I wonder if it’s different now… now that you’re 21. You may still have your picture in POPstar, I haven’t looked in a while.) If I’m honest, my dream was not merely to sing, but to perform with you.
Hello Jesse. You don’t know me, but like many people tuned into pop culture, I know of you. I’ve known of you for quite a while now. How’s life treating you? Well, I hope. You’re still making music, and I’m still watching and listening. You sound and look good. Are your dreams the same? Mine have changed quite a bit.
Since eleven and thirteen, I survived high school with only a few scars to show for it. You’ve released four albums. I’ve put myself through conversion after conversion. You completely changed your image and the flavor of your music. You were in a three-year relationship. I got my heart stepped on more times than I like admitting. You’re going tour, starring in a movie, writing hit songs, and probably more than I could even begin to guess. I’m heading into my second term as a sophomore at Bennington College feeling a bit less like a gawky teenager.
We’ve both grown up some, haven’t we?
Actually, that’s why I’m writing – because we’ve grown up. In a very odd, we’ve-never-met-and-you-live-across-the-country kind of way, I feel like I grew up next door to you or something; not because I know the slightest bit of truth about you, but because when I think about any point in my life, I can connect it with your career. It’s weird that mine is a life and yours in a career. Looking back, I’m glad we didn’t trade…
My big plan: to use your career as the framework for a memoir. Fuck, I was cocky. A memoir at 19. Nothing had happened to me yet. Nothing has since then either. Needless to say, I didn’t get very far. For better or for worse, your persona and your music have been integrated in my life since the seventh grade.
For better or for worse, I think you’re up there in my “artistic influences” with Gene Kelly (who taught me how to be a performer), James Joyce (who has taught me how to be a reader), Eudora Welty (who taught me how to be a writer), Salvador Dali (who taught me how to have nightmares), Jane Austen (who taught me how to romanticize), Leonardo DiCaprio (who taught me how to swoon), Johnny Depp (who taught me the art of disguise), Julie Taymor (who taught me about spectacle), Tennessee Williams (who taught me about whiskey), Mary Martin (who taught me how to fly), A.A. Milne (who taught me how to imagine), Martin McDonaugh (who taught me about humor), Oscar Wilde (who taught me about deals with the devil), Tamora Pierce (who taught me about worlds), Jason Mraz (who taught me about wordplay), Walt Disney (who taught me about happy endings)… I think I’ll end there. Well, what would your parenthesis say: who taught me how to obsess? who taught me loyalty? who taught me about boy bands, bad lyrics, and bad blog posts?
Jesse McCartney (who taught me how to dream)
Even if my dreams were wrapped up in you for a while, I’ve disentangled myself and live at a comfortable distance from that knot (though some may disagree.) It was good for me to have pipe dreams about going on tour with you, or running into you in some mall. Somehow, in doing so, I never truly feared the size of my dreams.
To be honest, I am beginning to fear such things. Maybe that’s why I still listen to your music with such guiltless pleasure. It’s a connection to that fearless dreaming. I’m looking forward to hearing your new album.