Directed by Jonathan William Turner. From Remind Me Tomorrow, due January 18 on Jagjaguwar.
Growing up is weird. There comes a point where you barely recognize the person you used to be. It’s easy to be dismissive of your former self’s personality and character by claiming immaturity. But if you think back, it didn’t feel that way at the time. You were a fully formed human being as a teenager. But as you get older you change. Experiences and education affect the way you think and feel about things. And age wreaks havoc on your physical appearance. You’re different than you used to be. Are you the same person? Sure, partially. But not 100%. And that’s weird, isn’t it?
Haven’t we all dreamed of going back in time and having a conversation with our 16-year-old self?
Sharon Van Etten gets this.
Come back, kid!
Let me look at you!
She says, “As the lyrics for ‘Comeback Kid’ unfolded, I realized I was talking about many selves: the kid, the adult, the sibling, the friend, the neighbor. I imagined a projector streaming over me of memories, unclear if they are mine or someone else’s, confronted by the disorientation of time and perspective. Jonathan William Turner helped me to convey these struggles of self, forgiveness, and living in the now.”
She told NPR, “Believe it or not, ‘Comeback Kid’ started off as a piano ballad. My homage to Bruce Springsteen, talking about formative years. It is talking about my young adult years, when I returned home in my early 20s after having an early crisis. My family took me in with open arms, nursed me back to health. I tried to explain all the complicated relationships with returning home and the many selves you face, the kid that never goes away, but strives to be the independent adult. I feel like this song encompasses my influences from past and present, as well as represents a moment in time that changed my life and helped me move on to be who I am today. It is complex and sometimes hard to face, but I face it and I’m stronger now. And as I look at my son, I hope he knows he can always turn to me, too.”
The director says, “The visuals draw from Sharon’s personal archive of photos and videos as the narrative of the song looks back on her past. The elements are then reactivated by an undercurrent of abstract animations. These sequences are also used to frame and obscure her performance, suggesting the fractured identity of someone looking at their past, but also confidently facing the future. Sharon is both audience and projectionist of her memories.”