Link to performance, recordings and other stories about this song: SO REAL

I had always loved the melody to the chorus of “So Real.” It was a song I wrote as a teenager about trying to accept the reality of breaking up with a boyfriend. I had many songs to “rediscover” but “So Real” was compelling for me. I did not remember or care for the verse melody, so I began to compose a new one. It was exciting because it was the very first time I had developed my song into something new.

Somehow the words and melody began to tell a different story for me thirty years later. It was not about dealing with a breakup at all; it was about suffering with the heartbreaking anguish of grief. As I was working on the verses, suddenly I progressed the chords in a different way. I discovered the very first bridge I’d ever written; it had lyrics and a melody that helped the song move to a climax with a modulated ending chorus.

It was quite a remarkable moment for me when I discovered I was able to write some new for the first time in thirty years. Even though So Real was a “song seed,” the process of the composing the bridge reinforced how connected I was to my heart. The lyrics where I said, “I picture your soul soaring free” were absolutely true and clear for me.

I wanted my song to be relatable. Many more people could relate to my song if they thought about someone who had left instead of died. So I changed the lyrics of, “I picture your soul soaring free,” to “I picture you’re happy and free.”

When performing my song, I often sing it the other way because it is definitely more of an honest expression of my feelings.

After I finished my new version of the song “So Real,” this is what I wrote:

At this time in my life, I look forward to each day when I get up in the morning. It didn’t used to be that way. Currently, I am so joyful. I’m eager to practice my music, write, or simply laugh a whole lot. Of course, I still have plenty of responsibilities, which I juggle.

Looking forward to waking up is quite new. Only six short months ago, every morning I woke up to rush to the hospital and see my mother while she was on a respirator. Before that, I was a zombie for years. Being a zombie wasn’t as bad as what preceded that.

The very worst time was when Jason died in 1992. Writing his story, released a great deal of trauma. Sadly, it’s hard to sum up five years of trauma with one story. I mourned the loss of my innocence and the loss of the happy person I was before my son died.

With my “grief journey,” I’ve learned that life is all about losing our innocence. Of course, not everyone loses a child, but loss is definitely a part of life. It has given me great appreciation for my own life and for those I love.

When Jason died, I had endless flashbacks that played over and over again. I believe that it was my mind’s way of trying to grasp that my son’s death was real. I could not control it at all. For me, the hardest part of each and every day was waking up. I would have to wake up and face the unbelievable truth that I would never, ever see my beloved child again. I would never hear his voice, feel his touch, or smell his sweet hair. Words were completely inadequate to describe that exquisite pain.

Sleep was a blessed escape from the anguish of grief – and that was if I was even so fortunate as to fall asleep. My song, So Real, is about waking up to the awareness of what is unbearable to face. I did not want to wake up! I would lie in bed, wishing my life were over. I begged for relief from the anguish and wondered why I had to live with that level of pain. It seemed endless and I never thought it would change.

When I woke up, I wanted to believe that the horrible tragedy of my son’s death was only a nightmare. I didn’t want to believe it was real. I could share so many things about my life, but for right now – my music is leading me to magical places. My soul is soaring and singing, and even my most painful songs allow for the heartache to actually flow out of me as I sing the lyrics and play my guitar.



I was so innocent when I was young.

© Judy Unger and 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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